Salmon River Chinook Run Extinction a Possibility

Photo Schmiebel


MATTHEW RENDA, Courthouse News

(CN) – The population of spring-run Chinook salmon has ebbed to the point where fish advocates, Native Americans and environmentalists are warning near-term extinction is a real possibility.

Last week, divers conducted the annual fish population survey on an 80-mile stretch of the Salmon River that winds its way near the California-Oregon border, and found the number of spring-run Chinook salmon was just 110. That figure represents the second lowest number in the 20 years of data collection.

"We knew that fish diseases practically wiped out juvenile populations in recent years," said Nat Pennington, a board member of the Salmon River Restoration Council and the Klamath Riverkeeper. "Still it's a shockingly low number of spring salmon."

There has only been one time, in 2005, when fewer fish were counted: divers only managed to count 90 fish that year. Historically, hundreds of thousands of fish made the run from the Pacific Ocean upstream into the Salmon River, a 20-mile tributary of the much larger Klamath River that winds through Siskiyou County.

In 2011, the same teams of scuba divers managed to count 1,600 fish, but numbers have been on a steady, precipitous decline since.

While Pennington noted disease as a substantial factor, a recent study by the University of California, Davis, identified another culprit: climate change.

Read the rest of the story at Courthouse News here: