Idaho Fish and Game moves thousands of sockeye salmon ahead of flood waters

Posted at 4:25 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 10:22:19-04

Idaho Fish and Game is taking action to move 4,000 endangered Sockeye Salmon at the Eagle Fish Hatchery out of harm’s way of the flooded Boise River.  Sandbags are in place to protect the hatchery,  but on Thursday the fish are going on a road trip.

"Just because it's so hard to predict what could occur here at this point in time we feel it is best to be overly cautious and move these fish right now," said Mike Keckler with Idaho Fish and Game

The salmon will be loaded into specialized trucks and taken to another hatchery in eastern Idaho. While the flooding on the Boise River has not impacted the Eagle hatchery yet, more rain is expected to fall in the coming days and Idaho Fish and Game is not taking any chances with rising water causing a power outage.

"Power is what circulates the water and supplies oxygen to the water and if we were to lose that for an extended period of time it could put the fish in jeopardy," explained Keckler.
Idaho Fish and Game says Sockeye have been kept on biological life-support for more than two decades in the Gem State. Salmon held at the Eagle hatchery act as captive broodstock, their spawn is released into Redfish Lake and Pettit Lake where they eventually migrate to the ocean.
"They supply the young that have enabled us to bring the Sockeye back from the brink of extinction so they are very important and we don't want to take any chances," said Keckler.

Idaho Fish and Game say offspring are also kept in other facilities to provide a genetic bank that acts as a safeguard against natural catastrophes. According to Fish and Game in 2016, 567 Sockeye returned to the Sawtooth Valley, that is slightly below the 10-year average of 664 fish, but a huge improvement over previous decades. Back in 1992, a single sockeye who came to be known as “Lonesome Larry” was the only fish to make it back to Redfish Lake.