NW Oregon rivers see historically low steelhead returns

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Fisheries managers say steelhead fish in the Santiam and Willamette rivers in northwestern Oregon have hit low levels not seen in over 40 years.

The Statesman Journal reports ( ) typically about 5,600 wild winter steelhead crossing through Willamette Falls annually. Officials said this year, it was around 800.

Numbers for hatchery-raised summer steelhead also came out low. This year, the count came out to 1,100 compared to the regular average of 18,000 fish per year.

Bruce McIntosh with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the low counts are due to years of poor ocean conditions and drought. He says those factors have limited the steelhead's food supply.

McIntosh says sea lions have also become a significant threat to the fish.

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