Salmon runs are down but officials say it is too earlier to say why.
“We do the best we can to predict abundance,” said Peter Dygert, branch chief of salmon management for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “The shortfalls are unfortunate but I don’t think they are beyond the range of expectations given populations rise and fall naturally.”
This year 79,500 spring-summer chinook returned to Idaho, 71 percent fewer than forecast earlier this year and less than the 90,844 that returned in 2011.
But in the last decade the returns have ranged from as low as 29,892 in 2006 to the 123,000 that returned in 2010.
Sockeye numbers are down but the red fish are still coming back to the Sawtooth Valley and Redfish Lake. By the end of last week 218 sockeye had returned. Since 2008, more than 650 sockeye have returned annually to the Sawtooth Valley, peaking in 2010 with 1,355
Steelhead and fall chinook are in the middle of their runs and Fish and Game is predicting fewer will return than they anticipated, based on downriver dams counts. They are especially concerned about the larger, so-called B-run steelhead that mostly return to the Clearwater.