Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Lower Numbers of Fall Chinook Salmon Returning to Battle Creek in 2009

Nov 12, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Contact: Scott Hamelberg, 530-365-8622
November 12, 2009 

 Lower Numbers of Fall Chinook Salmon Returning to Battle Creek in 2009

Preliminary data collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates the number of adult fall run Chinook salmon returning to Battle Creek this season is roughly 60 percent of what returned last year.

According to Scott Hamelberg, Project Leader for the Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, Calif., roughly 8,000 adult fall Chinook salmon have returned to Battle Creek this year, of those, a little more than 5,000 have entered the hatchery's fish ladder for incorporation into this year's spawning season.

Last year, about 14,000 returned to Battle Creek with nearly 10,000 entering the hatchery "The number of fall Chinook salmon returning to Battle Creek this year has been a great disappointment," said Hamelberg. "We will continue to operate the fish ladder for the next couple of weeks and, if fish are available, continue collecting eggs."

Eggs are collected from the returning adults in order to produce juvenile fish that will be reared at the hatchery and released the following year. So far this year, hatchery workers have collected just over 12 million eggs, about 3 million short of the 15 million eggs required to produce 12 million juveniles.

With the number of eggs collected to date, Hamelberg expects about 10 million juveniles will be ready for release this spring which is still about 85 percent of what is normally released by the hatchery. With a 1 percent survival rate of these juveniles, which is what is generally expected; about 100,000 adult salmon would result from this release and be available for fishing and broodstock needs in 2012.

The reasons for this year's reduced salmon return to Battle Creek are not yet known.

"The juvenile fall run Chinook were released as two groups two and half years ago and preliminary data shows that returning adult fish from the second release group are nearly absent from this year's return," said Jim Smith, Project Leader at the Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office "We will be examining data over the next few months to determine possible causes, and to ensure greater probability of successful returns in future years.

Coleman National Fish Hatchery was constructed in 1942 to partially off-set the impacts of the construction Shasta and Keswick dams. The hatchery is located on Battle Creek, approximately three miles east of the Sacramento River and 20 miles southeast of Redding,Calif. Each year, Coleman NFH produces approximately 12 million fall Chinook salmon, 1 million late-fall Chinook salmon, and 600,000 steelhead.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.