Drought forces thousands of salmon to take road trip

Mar 26, 2015 11:51 AM by News Staff

For the second year in a row, the California drought has forced thousands of juvenile Chinook salmon onto trucks.

As part of a special drought contingency plan, the 560,000 juvenile Chinook salmon were transported from the Coleman Fish Hatchery in Anderson Thursday morning, down about 180 miles to other sites on the Sacramento River.

Typically, the salmon are released into the nearby Battle Creek tributary, but California's long-lasting drought has made the area inhospitable to juveniles.

The fish were transported in five retrofitted trucks capable of carrying 2,800 gallons of water and 100,000 fish.

Officials stressed that this was a last resort. Transporting the smolts in trucks increases the chances that they will stray and never find their way back to the hatchery, but Steve Martarano, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that if the fish were released on site, they would probably lose them all.

Similar operations have taken place in the past on a smaller scale. From 2008 to 2011, an average of 1.3 million salmon were moved from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Last year that number jumped to 7.5 million. That was just a fraction of the 25 million salmon that were transported by truck in 2014 from five fisheries statewide.


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