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Sandhill Cranes flying near Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley. Dan Smith photo.

State wildlife officials have suspended fishing in a lake near Monte Vista and are still investigating other impacts from what apparently was an errant crop-duster spraying poisonous herbicides.

The affected area is Home Lake State Wildlife Area, where officials said a mile-wide toxic swath was laid down, killing snails and leading to a close of fishing for at least two weeks while the extent of the damage is still being assessed, according to the Colorado Sun. The initial announcement was made in the Alamosa Citizen newspaper.

A southwest area wildlife spokesman said state testing will continue, and while no fish die-offs were reported initially, he warned anglers not to eat anything from the lake during the two-week closure. The extent of the impact could be wider.

Investigators, the Sun reported, are interviewing crop-dusting operators in the area to find out how the herbicides were sprayed in the area last week, which could result in criminal or civil penalties against the person responsible.

The spokesman said they know a crop-duster was working the area last week, and noted that  Home Lake also borders two other state wildlife areas and area agricultural fields.

Winds which normally blow southwest to northeast in the San Luis Valley may mean the agricultural fields were probably also affected, the spokesman said.

One of the chemicals is know to be toxic to invertebrates eaten by fish, the second has two components that take longer to break down in the environment and was the reason for the fishing closure, the spokesman said. Officials are trying to determine how concentrated or diluted the poisoning might be.

Home Lake is home to species of fish including rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and carp, and waterfowl also inhabit the lake, about a mile and a half east of Monte Vista, where sandhill cranes migrate through annually in huge numbers.

Wildlife officers are working with the Department of Agriculture in the investigation. CPW has limited the amount of water exiting Home Lake to prevent any further impacts downstream.

The lake will be well-marked with closure signs. It is possible the closure will be extended.