Micky Novak 413/548-9010, Terri Edwards 413/253-8324
The first Atlantic salmon migrating up the Connecticut River this spring reached the Robert E. Barrett Fishway at the Holyoke Dam last Friday, April 21. It is the earliest date that the salmon have ever returned to the fish lift, according to Micky Novak, project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, Mass.
Last year, the first Atlantic salmon arrived at the fish lift on May 12. He attributes the early return to low water levels in the river.
"The water is still cold, about 50 degrees; however, with no appreciable snow melt or rains, the river isn?t raging as it usually is at this time of year. The low water conditions are favorable for fish migration," said Novak.
So far this year, two Atlantic salmon have reached the fish lift. Novak brought the fish to the salmon station, where he will collect biological data from them as part of ongoing efforts to recover the species in the Connecticut River. The fish will be placed in indoor pools, where they will stay until they spawn late this fall.
According to Novak, 90 percent of the Atlantic salmon trapped at the Holyoke fish lift are brought to the salmon station as part of the Atlantic salmon recovery program. The remaining 10 percent are equipped with radio tags and released above the dam. Some later have been monitored hundreds of miles to the north.
For further information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - http://www.fws.gov
For daily counts of Atlantic salmon, American shad, and other species at the Robert Barrett Fishway - http://www.fws.gov/r5crc/Fish/daily.html
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.