WATER levels in a Coniston tarn are so low that volunteers have had to stun fish and move them to a nearby beck to stop them dying.

January to May has been the driest period of weather since 1929, and fish are suffering from a lack of oxygen due to the low levels of water.

Yew Tree Tarn is home to brown trout and salmon which have been threatened by the combination of dry weather and leaks in the dam at the tarn.

Volunteers with the South Lakes Rivers Trust and the Coniston and Crake Partnership have been electrofishing the tarn to stun fish, so they can be moved to nearby Yewdale Beck.“The job we’re doing here is vital,” said Les Higgins, secret-ary of the Coniston and Crake Partnership. “Normally where we’re standing right now is full of water, so you can see how down it is.

“These are wild fish that are native to the Lake District. Once you lose them, you can’t replace them.

“It’s not the first time it’s got this low,” said National Trust ranger Kevin Fairclough, who is helping with the fish rescue.

“Two years ago we almost had to do what we’re doing now, but then within 24 hours we had so much rain that we didn’t need to come out. This is the first time we’ve had to come this far to save the fish.

“It’s one of these things that happens in a prolonged period of dry weather.

“There haven’t been any fish deaths yet but, with no significant rainfall forecast, the likelihood is that the tarn will drop to critical levels.

“By rescuing the fish now we’re hoping we can repatriate the fish elsewhere to protect their populations.”

Mr Fairclough added that previous attempts to fix the leaks in the dam had been futile because the tarn stood on a faultline.

This means that water naturally leaks away through cracks in the ground.