Sockeye Salmon: Canary in Coal Mine for Health of NW Rivers

Public News Service

Sockeye salmon offspring are making their way from central Idaho to the Pacific Ocean.

Many people in the Northwest see the 1,000-mile journey as miraculous. But the tiny smolt face a number of challenges and the species is near extinction.

Andy Munter is the owner of Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum and an Idaho Rivers United board member. He says sockeye are the “canary in the coal mine” for the health of the river.

“If we know that they’re coming back, we know that we have a relatively free-flowing river, relatively cool river, relatively free of pesticides and some of those other problems,” he states. “But when they don’t come back, we know we have problems in that whole corridor.”

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