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Wildlife Agencies See Near Collapse Of 2014 Salmon Species

Jan 27, 2015

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal wildlife agencies say the entire winter-run of naturally-spawning Chinook salmon may have collapsed in 2014. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the agencies will begin releasing triple the number of hatchery-raised juveniles next week.

High water temperatures in the Sacramento River last summer and fall caused 95-percent of winter-run salmon egg and fry to die.

Maria Rea: “I think this is really unprecedented really that we’ve seen this level of temperature mortality.”

Maria Rea with NOAA Fisheries says this is the second consecutive year that the drought has had a substantial effect on the winter-run population.

Rea: “We’re just seeing a real diminishment of the cold water pool at Shasta, which is necessary to maintain temperatures and that’s due to really low storage at Shasta.” 

Federal agencies have 600,000 hatchery-produced juvenile winter-run salmon ready for release from a federal hatchery in Northern California. That’s triple the norm. Next week they plan to release a third of them. They’re hoping to time the release of the remainder with winter storms.