By Tileena Leighton
About four years ago the Nez Perce Tribe’s fisheries department started the translocation of the Pacific Lamprey Eel in hopes to assist in the recovery of the Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon.
“We had thousands of eel in here [Snake River], maybe even in the millions,” Nez Perce Tribal member and eel project coordinator,” Elmer Crow said. “For the past five to six years all that’s come over Lower Granite Dam is double digits. So, we’ve got a problem.”
The Pacific Lamprey Eel is a nutritious source of food for other fish. “One of the questions we’ve always asked,” Crow said, “is is this a part of Salmon recovery that’s missing?”
The 15 Fish were picked up from John Day Dam, which is located on the Snake River on the border of Idaho and Oregon, and relocated to the Tribe’s Big Canyon Fall Chinook Acclimation Facility in Juliaetta, Idaho. They will live in a large tank until they are released into area creeks.
“The biology, and the restoration, and keeping these things alive is very important,” Crow said, “but it’s just as important or more important to me personally because of the cultural, spiritual values of the Nez Perce people.”