- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

STANLEY, Idaho (AP) - The first sockeye salmon has completed its 900-mile migration to Redfish Lake Creek near Stanley.

The Idaho Statesman reports (https://bit.ly/1gkurOf ) that migration has been tough this year, thanks to high temperatures and hot rivers that have killed tens of thousands of salmon in the Columbia River.

To help the fish, Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists have trapped and trucked 37 sockeye this month from Lower Granite Dam in Washington to the Eagle Hatchery in southwest Idaho.

Senior research biologist Mike Peterson says that in the past 10 years between 30 and 78 percent of sockeye that crossed the Lower Granite Dam completed the trip to the Sawtooth Basin to spawn. Peterson said he hopes they get 30 percent this year, but it could be less.

“I don’t know what to expect because this is a year we’ve never seen before,” he said. “We’re going to learn the thermal tolerances of these fish.”

Through July 27, 368 sockeye were counted at Lower Granite Dam.

The run in 1991 was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, kicking off a hatchery program that at first had only a handful of returning fish to propagate the species.

The 6,800-foot-elevation basin is where the last Snake River sockeye salmon spawn. But officials said a century of habitat destruction, dams, chemical treatments that killed fish in the lakes and some years with poor ocean conditions for salmon survival combined to push the fish to the edge.

But last fall more sockeye, some 1,500 fish, made the journey from the Pacific Ocean to central Idaho’s Redfish Lake than in any year going back nearly six decades.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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