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Lightning Strikes Chinook at Powell

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, August 9, 2010

According to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game news release, a lightning strike at the Powell killed 141 adult chinook.

Facility attendant Joseph Blackburn checked the trap at 1 a.m. on Aug. 6 and found everything was as it should be. Later that morning, following a violent storm that tossed several lightning bolts near his cabin, Blackburn checked the trap again found about half the chinook dead.

The dead chinook, all females, where scattered throughout the pond. During the storm Blackburn had checked debris screens and water flows and saw no problems.

Doug Munson, Idaho Fish and Game's fish pathologist, and Clearwater Hatchery superintendent Jerry McGehee went to the Powell trap to investigate. They found many of the dead fish were slightly bent and had black bruises on their sides and backs. When the fish were dissected, the bruises revealed hemorrhaging, similar but more severe, than those found in fish that have been sampled in the wild through electro-fishing techniques.

"We've never seen this," said Paul Kline, assistant chief of fisheries at Fish and Game at Boise.

The loss of the fish is not expected to effect the number of chinook produced at the state's Clearwater Hatchery in Orofino. Chinook trapped at Powell are transported to the hatchery where they are spawned.

Later the U.S. Forest Service said satellite imaging confirmed at least three lightning strikes were detected near the cabin and fish holding pond.

Eric Barker
Lightning Strikes Chinook at Powell
Lewiston Tribune, August 9, 2010

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