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A Lonely Idaho Couple...So Far

August 2, 2007

They're being called the loneliest couple in Idaho. One male and one female sockeye salmon have made it from the ocean to Redfish Lake near Stanley, following a route that thousands of sockeye used to make successfully every year. Amanda Peacher with Idaho Rivers United says this year's return is another sign that something needs to change if endangered salmon will ever be restored.

"So, while it's joyous to see a couple make it back, it's also a sign that our salmon recovery efforts are not working."

Peacher wants decisions to be made quickly to keep wild sockeye from going extinct because the artificial breeding fishery system can't work forever.

"Each year that goes by that all of our sockeye remain in this captive program, they lose genetic fitness. So, we don't have a lot of time before they're no longer suited for the wild."

Sockeye have to make it around eight dams on their journey. Peacher explains that returning sockeye salmon numbers drastically fell off after the four dams on the Lower Snake River were added to the system. Peacher feels that restoring wild salmon populations is an economic dream for rural towns that used to be fishing hotspots.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ID