Parasites A Threat To Klamath Salmon

Photo by Chris Collard
Photo by Chris Collard

A deadly parasite in Northern California’s iconic Klamath River is threatening young Chinook salmon before they begin on their long journey to the sea and then back to spawn. ┬áIt’s feared many will never make it.

Here’s the Associated Press with more:

A deadly salmon parasite is thriving in the drought, infecting nearly all the juvenile chinook in the Klamath River in Northern California as they prepare to migrate to the ocean.

The Klamath Fish Healthy Advisory Team, made up of state and federal agencies and Indian tribes, warns a major fish kill is likely, and the Yurok Tribe and NOAA Fisheries Service have asked for extra water releases to flush out worms that carry the parasite, known as C shasta.

But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says after four years of drought, it has no water to spare for chinook salmon.

Bureau spokeswoman Erin Curtis said Wednesday the water stored in Klamath Basin reservoirs is already committed to endangered sucker fish and threatened coho salmon, and releasing water now means less for any crisis that erupts this summer.

Water for farmers on a federal irrigation project has also been cut to less than half of full deliveries as mountain snowpacks that supply reservoirs have dwindled to zero.

“We made the decision after consulting fish health experts and reviewing records that releasing a pulse flow at this time was not an advisable use of a very limited water supply,” Curtis said. “We are having to take the long view. We know we have got to get through the whole spring and summer. There are going to be a lot of decisions to make, and this is one of them.”