NewsIdaho Back Roads


Unique Idaho salmon numbers rise, but extinction looms

Posted at 2:10 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 16:10:09-05

BOISE, Idaho — A unique population of salmon that for thousands of years has reproduced in one of Idaho’s wildest places experienced a small increase in adults returning to spawn this year.

But experts say the chinook salmon that now return to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and its tributaries are just a tiny fraction of historic numbers and face extinction. A survey completed in September of spawning beds found that about 900 salmon returned this year compared to 320 last year.

Most of the basin is in protected wilderness containing about 460 miles of pristine spawning habitat that in the past had a return of an estimated 150,000 adult salmon.