Hundreds of salmon stranded in farm ditches
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California and federal wildlife officials are scrambling to figure out how hundreds of endangered salmon recently became stranded in irrigation ditches in the Colusa basin, west of the Sacramento River.Finding the answers is a matter of some urgency, because tens of thousands of fall-run Chinook salmon are weeks away from their annual return from the ocean to the Sacramento River and could also become trapped.“There has been some stranding in the past, but as far as I can tell, the numbers have been significantly lower than this,” said Jeffrey McClain, assistant supervisor at the National Marine Fisheries Service office in Sacramento. “It’s significant, and that’s why this is a serious thing for us to figure out.”The rescues were led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 11 separate trips over a month, starting May 2, officials rescued 312 adult salmon headed upstream. Of these fish, at least eight were determined to be spring run, and the balance were winter run.Spring-run are listed as a threatened species under federal law, and winter-run are endangered.Twenty-four of the rescued fish were missing their adipose fins, indicating they were winter-run salmon bred at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Livingston Stone Hatchery near Red Bluff.