Fish Kill at Briant Park Pond, Summit, NJ

July 16, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Photo by Carmilla Caruana, July 8th 2023

Fish kill with dead raccoon at Briant Park, Summit NJ. July 8, 2023

       This summer has had several experiences I may never forget. June had many days that we were covered in wildfire smoke from Canada until the beginning of July. July 3rd was the hottest day ever recorded on Earth, then July 4th was even hotter. Independence day was filled with firework shows as usual which put us right back into our own smoke cloud as soon as wildfire smoke cleared. Just as summer seemed to be returning to normal, on July 7th, my local neighborhood pond at Briant Park in Summit, NJ, had experienced a fish kill. I was notified by my neighbor that she saw an unusual amount of dead fish in the pond so I immediately grabbed my camera to investigate. The dam waterfall was lined with dead fish and there were others scattered all around the pond. I counted up to 47 and immediately called the Union County Park and Recreation department and spoke with their secretary whom said the office was empty for the weekend but gave me the director, Victoria Durbin-Drake's email to notify her. I sent the email. I then headed to the western side of the South Mountain Reservation to check the waterways there. Everything there seemed fine so I went home for the evening hoping that something would be done soon, families with kids didn't need to see these dead fish and the smell was only going to get worse overtime. Some of the fish were fairly rotted, eaten and falling apart, so it's hard to tell how long they had been dead for. Between the overgrown amounts of vegetation, the extreme heat, the smoke, or the mass amounts of rain that just passed through, it was hard to tell which or how many of these factors could have contributed. I was told that Cranford was having similar issues with fish kills and I found an article about another in Newark. (

     The next day, my neighbor contacted me again to let me know the fish were still there. I went to observe and see if there were more, the amount wasn't much greater but they had grouped more by the dam. The pond reeked of rotting fish and now there was also a dead raccoon floating by the dam with the fish. After I saw the raccoon, I told my neighbor that we should go to the police station immediately to find out who we can talk to in order to get this cleaned up immediately. We arrived at the Summit Police station and they sent out an officer to speak with us. The officer gave us a number written on a sticky note to call the Union police. As soon as I returned home, I called the number and the Union Police told me that the state was already informed. Later that evening, most of the fish had been cleaned up. I still felt uneasy about the incident and that night did some more research on fish kills in the area. When I found the DEP 24/7 Hotline which asked to report all fish kills immediately. I was shocked that nobody gave me this number before nor mentioned that they would be contacted. I left a message and made a report in the phone app. Sunday, I traveled to Bloodgoods pond in Clark, NJ. I didn't see any dead fish or live ones for that matter. There was even a fisherman that seemed to have given up and left after no catches or bites.  I was contacted on Monday by the DEP and I shared my info about the other local waterways that I investigated which seemed fine, but also the lack of wildlife since the incident. Briant park usually has dozens of chipmunks and squirrels running around all the time but since the fish kill there have hardly been any to be seen within a mile radius. I also let him know about how the pond has become like a marsh, overgrown with vegetation over the years and how locals are constantly complaining about it not being what it used to be. A week later the wildlife seem to be returning but it seems most of the usual crowd has been staying away from the park. The fish kill happened from a combination of factors between the extreme heat, the overgrown vegetation and too many fish for the water to have enough oxygen. 





July 7th, 2023.                      








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