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Creek construction killing wildlife

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Story by Antwan Harris

Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Dead fish are showing up in backyards.

Residents say it's because the City of Chattanooga is moving a creek, but it's killing off wildlife in the process.

It's all from a construction project in a Hickory Valley neighborhood. Residents say the sights and smells are so disturbing, they want answers.

Neighbors spent the weekend trying to save the animals by digging fish and turtles out the muddy creek.

The city says it looks like a mess now, but the project will actually save wildlife in the area.

"The wildlife is terrible. No telling how many ducks we are going to lose," says resident Bernie Freedman.

Bernie Freedman says in the past few days he hasn't been able to feed the ducks in his backyard after the water flow was cut off by a construction project.

"It was unbelievable that the animals were really tame and the duck, they are gone. Haven't seen them in a day or two," says Freedman.

Neighbors tried to save many of the fish, but several dead fish were seen in the creek remains.

This construction is part of the Friar's Branch restoration project.

It's a project between the state and city to reroute the stream in order to save the wildlife and give homeowners more yard space.

The state says the stream was converted to a man-made ditch that continued to kill off wildlife.

The city says some dead fish were expected.

"There were some that died and it has created a smell in the area and that is unfortunate, but it is part of the program," says City Spokesperson Richard Beeland.

Jane Hancock says she moved here six years ago because she wanted to live by the water.

Since the project began, she has seen less fish and more garbage in the stream remains.

"Yes, and we need to get the dead fish out of there, if they are dead already," says Hancock.

The project is a more than two million dollar undertaking that took about five years worth of planning, according to the city.

We are told construction is going according to plan, but many residents say the dead wildlife and rotten fish smell has everyone a little on edge.

"If they aren't going to do more to save the animals, I would like to see it quickly finished," says Freedman.

In 2008, Friar Branch was cited for numerous problems and added to the state's list of streams with water quality issues.

We are told the project should be complete by December.

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