TRAIL, ORE. — A tote containing 800 rotten, smelly spring chinook salmon carcasses is pushed by forklift — very daintily — into fish biologist Chuck Fustish’s state-owned pickup Friday to make sure no blood and guts fall into the bed.
“This is called the no muss, no fuss method,’ ” says Fustish, of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It keeps it from messing up your pickup.”
Besides, he’d rather save as much of the slime as possible for today, when nearly 100 individual salmon will get slung into portions of Big Butte Creek, a major Rogue River spawning tributary.
These excess fish — saved at the Cole Rivers Hatchery — are a relatively small part of a major expansion in a program that uses salmon and steelhead carcasses to fertilize upper Rogue tributaries and boost wild fish runs.
After more than a decade of only small use of the so-called “stream enrichment program,” state fish biologists are ramping up the numbers of fish tossed into Rogue basin streams this winter and spring to make up for the loss of marine-derived nutrients flushed annually from West Coast streams.
Hatchery workers are keeping thousands of extra salmon and steelhead carcasses this year, including thousands that would have gone to landfills in other years.
Pushed by a conservation group, this “No Carcass Left Behind” policy has grown out of studies that show carcass placement can put nutrients into streams that were absorbed by salmon in the ocean and carried inland during their spawning runs.
The extra fish tossed into streams… continued at Medford Mail Tribune where this report originally appeared.
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