Devastation at Minter Creek Hatchery

By on December 17, 2018

Up to 6.2 million fry have died at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s  (WDFW) Minter Creek hatchery after a power failure, followed by the failure of the facility’s backup generator. KOMO-TV reports that:

The fish were kept in incubators at the hatchery … the inventory of fish lost are 4.2 million Deshutes fall Chinook fry, 1.5 million Minter Creek fall Chinook fry and 507,000 White River spring Chinook fry.

“This is a devastating loss,” WDFW hatchery manager Erik Kinne said in a written statement. “The department is conducting an analysis to determine the root cause of what went wrong so that we can improve procedures at Minter Creek and our other hatcheries to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

In a press release announcing the loss, the WDFW reports that the dead chinook fry were scheduled for release in May or June 2019.

The latest catastrophe comes after a string of disasters that have befallen WDFW hatcheries. Last year, more than half-a-million steelhead and cutthroat molt were lost at the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery. At the time, the Journal Chronicle reported that:

After months of rampant rumors and speculation coming off of the Cowlitz River, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has finally confirmed what many area anglers had feared. To make matters worse, the WDFW says it doesn’t know where exactly the fish went. Numerous attempts to speak on the record with hatchery managers and WDFW biologists were refused and instead passed along to Le Fleur’s office over the past month. At one point, when The Chronicle asked if the animals had died, an official from WDFW said no, but provided no additional information about the missing fish. 

In 2015, 2.4 million salmon fry died in flooding at the Fallert Creek Hatchery after a culvert became clogged with debris.

Cover image by Earth'sbuddy (CC BY-SA 3.0 US).

Salmon University Staff
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