Wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest are in trouble -- 26 populations are listed as threatened or endangered -- and many conservationists fear hatcheries are a big part of the problem. In support of this belief, new research suggests that hatchery-reared steelhead are a threat to wild chinook in the Snake River.
"Our work suggests that steelhead released from hatcheries may increase the extinction risk of wild populations of Snake River chinook," say Phillip Levin and John Williams of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle, Washington, in the December issue of Conservation Biology.
West Coast hatcheries have produced salmon for more than a century and today release more than a billion each year. Most of the salmon in the Columbia River Basin are hatchery-reared, including more than 70% of both steelhead and spring-run chinook adults.
Phillip Levin | EurekAlert!
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