Fish and Game says
by Mark Yuasa
LEWISTON, Idaho -- The deaths of 200,000 young chinook salmon last month at a northern Idaho hatchery will likely mean fewer adult salmon returning to the Clearwater River, officials said.
"You don't replace them," said Tom Rogers, hatcheries supervisor with the Idaho Department of Fish and game. "Forty-six percent died and we are going to have to live with it. It has the potential to reduce adult returns."
Nearly half of the fish to be released into the Lochsa River from the Powell Satellite Facility of the Clearwater Fish Hatchery died March 28 when an intake pipe that fed an acclimation pond froze in cold weather, cutting off the water supply.
The fish were to be released from the acclimation pond into the river later that day to begin their journey to the ocean. The young salmon in the run that survived had been released from the acclimation pond in previous days, said Jerry McGehee, Clearwater Fish Hatchery manager.
The young salmon, called smolts, typically spend 2 years in the ocean before returning in the spring as adults, weighing between 12 and 14 pounds and helping to fuel an active sport fishery when enough fish return to allow harvest.
Officials said the loss represents only a small percentage of the 4.4 million smolts released annually in the Clearwater Basin as part of a federal program intended to compensate for fish losses caused by four dams on the lower Snake River.
Officials said the cost of rearing the salmon that died was nearly $44,000, and that the worker responsible for keeping the intake from freezing has been fired.
The temperature dropped below 20 degrees late on March 27 or early March 28. The worker, in response to an alarm, checked the hatchery intake pipe about midnight and cleared away slush. But the worker did not check again until between 6 and 7 a.m., officials said. During that time, ice blocked the intake and shut off the flow of water to the pond.
At another satellite facility on the Red River, a different worker, Jesse Wilmott, kept pipes clear and saved 425,000 spring chinook smolts, said McGehee.
"She single-handedly saved the entire Red River chinook run," he said.
Information from: Lewiston Tribune
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs