Drought Particularly Hard on Salmon Population

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SACRAMENTO-

The California drought has affected everyone in some way, but it’s been particularly tough on salmon.

“They are going to be forced to live in less habitat, subject to water quality conditions, higher temperatures and we expect to see potentially increased mortality,” Stafford Lehr said. He is the chief of fisheries for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

No matter the age of the fish, surviving this year will be hard. For the salmon egg nests, just remaining underwater is a tall order.

“The eggs require water and they require an appropriate amount of water to basically carry away waste, provide oxygen [and] cool temperatures and as those flows drop, you can end up drying the eggs completely up,” Lehr said.

salmonThen, there is the problem with people and prey.

“People are walking and crushing the eggs when they go out to fish. Birds will have more easy access to eating the eggs,” Dan Bacher of Fish Sniffer Magazine said.

It’s a great year for salmon numbers in our rivers, which would normally be a “good problem” but this year, it’s not.

“When that many number of fish come into the system, there is only so much area for them to spawn in and if you reduce that then you are going to start affecting them,” Lehr said.

There is also a petition for Fish and Game Commission to close down the American River, the Russian River and virtually every one of our coastal streams, making it illegal to fish.

“I am not fishing the river, myself, and I love to fish this river,” Bacher said.

We could see our rivers closed to fishing as early as the first week in February, when the commission is expected to hand down their decision.

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