Chase checks fish

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officer Chase Stewart measures a bass caught by a fisherman on Lake Greenwood.

Greenwood County officials and a lake promotional organization are debunking reports that the state Department of Natural Resources dumped nearly 100 pounds of dead fish into the lake during a recent stocking.

“Often, people jump to conclusions before they ask for facts, and this got just a number of responses where people were concerned that a DNR employee had dumped a bunch of dead fish in the lake,” County Council chairman Steve Brown said on Tuesday, referring to a social media post that made the allegation.

Connect Lake Greenwood, a volunteer-run organization that promotes the lake’s quality of life, took to its Facebook page in an effort to refute the claim, which originated elsewhere on the social media network.

“Last week, we became aware of a narrative circulating on social media that purported a fish kill on the lake or that perhaps a failure on the part of SCDNR in fish stocking operations had occurred. Our volunteers love our lake and immediately sought out the facts rather than repost rumor on social media or engage in speculation,” CLG said on Tuesday. “We regret any confusion or concern caused by the posts on other social media sites, but you can rest assured that the volunteers at Connect Lake Greenwood will always take the time to find out the truth and bring you answers.”

Officials contacted Leo Rose, coordinator of the state’s fish hatchery program, for answers. In an email that Brown read into the record, Rose acknowledged a loss of some inventory.

During a recent stocking operation, Rose said, 7,000 fish – or 10 pounds – out of a 96.73-pound load died on the truck.

“There was no other option for the driver than to release them at the landing to keep the other fish alive,” Rose wrote. “The technician immediately reported the loss so we were able to compensate in a subsequent stocking.”

In all, 178,961 fish were poured into the lake – above the county’s request of 140,000.

“Hopefully, the updated information will help put people’s mind at ease,” Rose wrote. “We are striving for the best fishery possible, and we are glad people are taking a keen interest in what we do.”

Brown, sometimes a vocal critic of state government, said it was important to clarify the situation in fairness to the county and DNR’s employees.

“I do this to kind of refute the fake news out there,” Brown said. “False information traveled around many a place before anybody ever came to the manager or his staff or even to DNR and said, ‘is this true?’”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.