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Salmon, Steelhead Populations at Risk as Invasive Voracious

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Salmon, Steelhead Populations at Risk as Invasive Voracious Predator Fish Walleye Enters Idaho  Waterways

(Photo : Bunrunner / Wikimedia Commons)
Salmon and steelhead populations in Idaho waterways are at risk. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The populations of salmon and steelhead are in serious jeopardy because of reports of sightings of the invasive, voracious predator fish walleye in Idaho’s waterways.

Invasive Voracious Predator Fish Walleye… Also Dinner

This year, there have been more reports of a non-native species of fish in the Snake and Salmon Rivers, which has prompted Idaho Fish and Game to sound the alarm about possible effects on strained salmon and steelhead. Several reports of the Midwest predatory fish walleye, have been made to Fish and Game officials, according to a news release, on the Snake River close to Hells Canyon and on the Salmon River.

According to the government, the reports are “alarming” and there are indications that more walleye are moving toward Idaho. Due to their ravenous appetites, walleye endanger salmon and steelhead in Idaho’s streams.

Walleye are opportunistic, and known apex predators that will consume any fish they can sink their teeth into, according to Fish and Game officials in the news release. The organization advised anglers reeling in walleye to hang onto their catches and have a delicious dinner rather than returning the fish to the water.

Idaho Waterways

Walleye are present in Idaho, even though they are not native there. The well-known game fish are stocked by Fish and Game in a few unique reservoirs so they can’t spread to other rivers. Nevertheless, walleye have found their way into other bodies of water.

They were unintentionally introduced to a lake in Washington decades ago, and as a result, they spread to the river systems of Columbia and Snake. In Washington, walleye on the Snake have often been found in the lower reaches of the river, but in recent years, they have started to frequent the Lower Granite Dam, which is located approximately 45 miles northwest of Lewiston.

Eradication Efforts

Some walleye are caught in fish traps before they can cross the dam, however many are capable to use the fish ladder to enter the upper Snake River and eventually Idaho. Additionally, walleye seem to have been smuggled into several Idaho waterways during the past few years. A walleye was reeled-in in Lake Cascade in 2018, which raised questions about the species’ potential effects on the populations of perch and bass.

Before a Fish and Game staffer caught one last year, no additional walleye at the lake had been documented. Anyone who captures walleye on Idaho rivers is asked by Fish and Game to keep the fish, as there is no bag or size restriction on walleye.

Additionally, anglers are requested to call the Lewiston Regional Office with information on the size and general location of the walleye they captured.

Also Read: Oysters Possible Dodos of the Sea in Overfishing Scare Seen in Study on 800 Shellfish Species 

Suffering Salmon and Steelhead Populations

Steelhead and salmon are essential to Idaho’s identity. These recognizable fish are born in the tributaries of the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers, travel to the ocean, then return to their home waters where they reproduce, die, and the cycle repeats. But dams and development have given salmon and steelhead a new normal, placing them on the endangered species list.

Populations of salmon and steelhead are declining and have decreased significantly since the construction of dams on the lower Snake River, despite the fact that management from both the state and federal governments has so far prevented Idaho’s famous species from going extinct. The best salmon and steelhead habitat in the world has been preserved and rebuilt upstream by Idahoans.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the fish to reach it. Only 2% of the historical population exists today.

Related Article: 5 Invasive Fish in NC Listed by Officials Under Aquatic Nuisance Species (2023) 


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