The goldfish and koi started surrendering to the surface around Halloween. Bass, crappie, catfish and the distinctive sunfish/bluegill hybrids which inhabited the pond for 140 years followed.
Soon the 5.2 acre South Pond in Chicago's Lincoln Park sported a slick of shiny, golden and still moving fish kind of like a macabre woman's drink.
But the fish kill was not an unfortunate runoff accident to be blamed on agricultural nitrates.
It was deliberately administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources which laced the pond with the South American poison Rotenone to "restore" the water body into a "model Illinois freshwater habitat."
It would be impractical to relocate "thousands or tens of thousands of fish," said DNR spokesman Chris McCloud.
A fish kill is the "standard technique" used when restoring a pond concurred Neal David, Lincoln Park Zoo's vice president of facilities.
The irony of killing the fish to save the pond was not lost on Chicago residents who have enjoyed the fish from rented paddle boats on the pond for generations.
Especially since the neglect-prone Lincoln Park Zoo allowed three elephants to perish in 2005 within seven months of each other and does not have a reputation for compassion.
"It takes such a long time for them to grow and they're just gonna kill them off," lamented Carlos de la Pena to a CBS TV news station about the fish kill.
Still, Chicago residents rarely see the trapping, denning, poisoning and sharpshooting--no doubt from helicopters--of "nuisance animals" that their tax dollars fund in what state officials term "wildlife management."
They probably think Ducks Unlimited loves ducks too.
The fact is the most state DNRs unswervingly serves hunters who serve them back.
Their financial models are predicated on providing "recreational opportunities" for sportsmen--read: bloodsports--though their conservation/habitat doublespeak sometimes occludes that fact.
Deer hunting is a prime example.
Hunting is necessary to "control the herd" and "save deer from starvation" intone DNR officials year after year while shamelessly playing the other side of the street and licensing hundreds of deer breeding farms. Hello?
Worse, they've declared war on chronic wasting disease (CWD) which would actually "control the herd" and "save deer from starvation" because it threatens another herd--the hunters who pay their salaries.