SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An already dwindling salmon species in the Sacramento River is now the latest victim of the drought gripping the Western U.S.
Wildlife experts say less than 3% of the winter-run Chinook salmon actually survived the hot dry summer. Now, there are concerns restrictions aimed at saving such fish populations could deprive cities and farmers of water deliveries this year.READ MORE: One Child Rescued, 3 Adults Missing In Sacramento River Near Rio Vista
We’re now seeing just how much of a toll last summer’s scorching heat wave and relentless drought took on young salmon. California Fish and Wildlife sent CBS13 its findings showing only 2.6% percent of the winter-run Chinook salmon juvenile population survived.
“Well it’s a hit to everybody. When you get to a drought like this water is in really really short supply,” said UC Davis fisheries scientist Peter Moyle. “The other runs of salmon are going to follow suit.”
Moyle says this could be just the beginning if we don’t work on a solution. The winter-run may be the first to take a hit, but not the last.READ MORE: What's Open And What's Closed This Fourth Of July
“If we lose the battle for the winter run we’re likely to run the battle for the other runs. So we’ve got to make the system work,” Moyle told CBS13.
You may remember that instead of releasing salmon into rivers last April, we showed you the state sucking the fish out of the reservoirs and then trucking them all the way to the ocean. With less snow melt feeding the rivers, the water was just too warm for young salmon. They’re desperate moves to save the salmon, but Moyle says the key is also sharing what little water we have.
“We’re using all this water that’s being produced by mountain ranges. We’re trying to capture it and store it in the reservoirs and we’re taking it from the fish. So if we want some of those fish around, we’ve got to give some of that water back,” said Moyle.MORE NEWS: Firefighters Rescue Kitten Trapped In Tennessee Walmart Pepsi Machine
While the winter-run salmon has been on the endangered list since 1994, the other two main Central Valley Chinook salmon runs aren’t doing much better either. They’re largely kept alive by hatcheries.