NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife officials say the number of sockeye salmon returning to Idaho this year is extremely low.
Nampa television station KIVI reports the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has only captured 17 sockeye in its trap near Stanley in central Idaho, and only 81 sockeye have made it past the Lower Granite Dam on their migration to Idaho.
The critically endangered fish travel to the Pacific Ocean before returning to the Redfish Lake region to spawn.
This year's sockeye return was hit especially hard because of a low survival rate of the hatchery fish released in 2017. Those sockeye were raised in the hard water of Springfield Hatchery in eastern Idaho hatchery, and when they were released into the soft water of central Idaho's Sawtooth Basin more than eighty percent perished.
Now biologists are holding juvenile sockeye in the medium hard water at Sawtooth Hatchery before releasing them into the wild.
Officials hope next year's return numbers will be better.
"In 2018 we had one of the highest post-release survivals in the history of the program," Idaho Department of Fish and Game research biologist John Powell said. "So we know we put a lot of fish out into the ocean, and right now we're kind of waiting for those fish to come back."
Information from: KIVI-TV, http://www.scrippsmedia.com/kivitv