California’s drought isn’t just impacting the people living in the state’s parched cities. It’s also a disaster for animals – which is why officials are discussing plans to move millions of salmon to the ocean using trucks. Wildlife officials worry that the rivers will be too warm and too shallow during the annual migration season, impacting the salmon’s food supply and making them easier for predators to catch. If that’s the case, the state plans to move the hatchery-raised salmon using tanker trunks to get them safely to the sea.
Every year in April and May the Coleman National Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek releases its salmon into the water. The hatchery produces at least 12 million Chinook salmon, which are essential west coast salmon populations because those fish produce nearly all of the wild-caught Chinook that Californians eat and fish. But unless the state gets plenty of rain this month, the tributaries may slow down and warm up. If that’s the case, officials are ready to begin moving fish starting next month.
There is some concern among experts that moving fish using trucks can result in matured fish swimming up the wrong river when they attempt to return upstream to spawn. That can harm the genetic traits of the populations. Researchers are currently looking for a long-term solution for moving the fish, but for now, moving the fish using trucks is a quick fix for the coming year. If trucking is necessary this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin implementing the plan in the Battle Creek, Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers.
Via The Guardian