LA GRANDE, Ore. — The Nez Perce Tribe is working to bring lampreys back to the tribal homeland in northeastern Oregon.
The La Grande Observer reports the tribe released 40 of the jawless, boneless fish in the Wallowa River this month, gathering them from dams on the Columbia River.
Jim Harbeck, field office supervisor for Nez Perce Fisheries, says restoring lamprey brings back a fish that was once a staple of tribal diets, as well as an important part of the ecosystem.
He adds lampreys have reproduced in tributaries of the Clearwater River in Idaho since adults were released there.
Although they are not protected by the Endangered Species Act, lampreys declined dramatically as more dams were built on the Columbia, because they have trouble swimming up fish ladders designed for salmon.
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