8 Sep 2010, 11:07pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Damaged valve leads to 40,000 sockeye deaths

AP, Deseret News, Sept. 4, 2010 [here]

BOISE — More than 40,000 sockeye salmon that were destined to help bolster Idaho’s breeding program died while at an Oregon hatchery late last month, wiping out about a quarter of the young fish slated for release in central Idaho mountain lakes next May.

The dour news comes just as Idaho had been celebrating robust numbers of endangered sockeye salmon returning to Redfish Lake near Stanley this summer.

A damaged valve at the Oxbow Fish Hatchery, located in Cascade Locks, Ore., is the culprit, the Department of Fish and Game said.

On Aug. 25, workers at the facility east of Portland along the Columbia River noticed sockeye numbers in an outdoor raceway were just over half what they should have been. They discovered many sockeye had been drawn through the damaged valve and into a void beneath the raceway, where they perished.

The fish, from brood year 2009, previously had numbered 94,826; after the accident, the inventory was just 51,609.

There are still another 100,000 sockeye from 2009 at the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery near Stanley, but the losses in Oregon mean state Fish and Game biologists will only have about 150,000 smolts in May 2011 to release ahead of a 900-mile journey from Redfish Lake to the Pacific Ocean.

That will reduce the number of sockeye salmon returning to Idaho’s captive brood-stock program from 2012 to 2014, said Jeff Heindel, Fish and Game’s conservation hatcheries supervisor said. … [more]



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