Salmon release changed to prevent ‘straying’

Published Tuesday, May. 11, 2010

For most fall-run chinook salmon in Central Valley rivers, youth is more akin to a factory assembly line than some aquatic nirvana.

Life begins in the concrete tanks of a hatchery on a four-month diet of manufactured food pellets. Teenage independence comes in the spring, with a tanker truck ride to Vallejo and a trip through a giant hose into San Pablo Bay.

Clean and programmed as this early life is, it hasn’t worked too well. The fall-run chinook population set a historic low in 2009, after two years of fishing closures imposed to protect the species from extinction.

So officials are tweaking the formula this year. On Monday, the California Department of Fish and Game released 2 million baby salmon, raised at Nimbus Hatchery near Rancho Cordova, into the American River instead of trucking them to Vallejo.

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