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100,000 live salmon spill out of overturned truck in Oregon — and most end up swimming away in creek

100,000 live salmon spill out of overturned truck in Oregon — and most end up swimming away in creek
100,000 live salmon spill out of overturned truck in Oregon — and most end up swimming away in creek

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A tanker truck overturned in Northeast Oregon on Friday and spilled over 100,000 live salmon — most of which landed in a nearby creek and lived to swim another day, officials said.

The 53-foot truck carrying the fish from the state’s Lookingglass Hatchery tumbled over while navigating a sharp corner, according to a release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Tuesday.

The driver managed to escape the accident with minor injuries, and cleanup efforts were aided by members of a local hatchery, Nez Perce tribe members and the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the ODFW said.

Overturned truck.
The driver of overturned truck managed to escape the scene with minor injuries.Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

“We are thankful the ODFW employee driving the truck was not seriously injured,” Andrew Gibbs, ODFW fish hatchery coordinator for Eastern Oregon, said in the release. “This should not impact our ability to collect future brood stock or maintain full production goals in the future.”

Of the approximately 102,000 spring Chinook smolts — or young salmon— that spilled from the truck, more than 25,000 did not survive. But about 77,000 safely made it into Lookingglass Creek, a tributary of the Grande Ronde River.

Chinook smolts.
A statement from the department said the smolts lost constituted 20 percent of the total fish count state hatcheries planned to release into the Imnaha River this year.Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The initial plan for the smolts was for them to be delivered by truck to an already-constructed pool at the Imnaha River. The hatchery is responsible for raising the Chinook salmon for tribal and sport harvest, supplementing the threatened wild population in the Imnaha.

A statement from the department said the smolts lost constituted 20 percent of the total fish count state hatcheries planned to release into the Imnaha River this year.

The Lookingglass Hatchery, located about 300 miles east of Portland, is one of the 33 hatcheries in Oregon which harvests stocks of salmon to be used for food or sport fishing.

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