by Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Northern Pikeminnow, the scourge of Columbia River salmon runs, has a price on its head again this year.
The Northern Pikeminnow Management Program will pay from $4 to $8 for each of the predators delivered to stations along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The program began Monday on the Columbia River below the John Day Dam and will start May 15 for the upstream reaches to Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington and to Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River in Idaho. The season closes Oct. 1.
Mature pikeminnow thrive on juvenile salmon, and fishing has removed about 2.7 million of them since 1990, including nearly 300,000 last year.
The Bonneville Power Administration says the program has cut juvenile salmon losses to prey by 25 percent.
The first 100 bring $4 each. The next 300 are worth $5 each. After 400 are turned in, they're worth $8 each.
To sweeten the deal, specially tagged fish are worth $500 each.
Top earners have made nearly $35,000 in a season. The BPA says the average is several hundred dollars.
Eligible fish must be at least 9 inches long and have been caught in the Columbia River between the mouth and Priest Rapids Dam or in the Snake river between the mouth and Hells Canyon Dam.
Participants must register daily at a registration station each day prior to fishing. The catch must be turned in daily, and vouchers are issued for qualified fish.
The pikeminnows are used for liquid organic fertilizer, and as fish meal in livestock feed.
Information about where to find northern pikeminnow, how to fish for them and how to qualify for the bounty is available from the Washington Sport Reward Hot Line at (800) 858-9015.
For voucher information, call (800) 769-9362 or (503) 595-3297 in Portland.
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