US considers protected status for Northwest salmon
SAN FRANCISCO — Federal officials are considering putting a once-flourishing West Coast salmon on the list of threatened or endangered species.
The National Marine Fisheries Services said Tuesday that it will investigate whether to give protected status to spring-run Chinook salmon in and around the Klamath River.
Spring Chinook were once one of the most abundant salmon of the Pacific Northwest, important to tribes, fishermen and wildlife. The Kuruk tribe and river-restoration groups say the species is nearly extinct through much of its old range in Oregon and Northern California. The California-based Kuruk tribe blames Klamath River dams for blocking the fish from their spawning grounds.
The federal move comes after a University of California, Davis study showed the spring Chinook were genetically rarer than researchers previously realized.