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Fertilized Salmon Eggs Injected Into Feather River To Boost Fish Population

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California drought has devastated the state’s salmon populations. But a pilot program is experimenting with a new way to save the fish.

The drought has reduced stream flows and increased river temperatures, which proved fatal for many salmon eggs. But the Department of Fish and Wildlife recently injected 20,000 fertilized salmon eggs into the Feather River near Sacramento. The eggs were held and chilled until the river was cool enough for them to survive.

John McManus is with the Golden Gate Salmon Association, which has advocated for the project. He says the state has several goals for the pilot program.

"The state wanted to get its hands on the equipment and see how many people it takes to operate, how difficult it is to operate," says McManus. "But another metric of success is what type of conversion do you have from eggs to small fish?"

McManus says, in nature, about 10 to 40 percent of salmon eggs hatch. But he says, using the injection technology, hatch rates have gone as high as 90 percent in some cases.