Puyallup Tribal News: Fisheries attempt to track resurging steelhead

The Puyallup Tribal News covers the tribe’s effort to get a better understanding of steelhead in the Puyallup watershed:

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is tracking steelhead fitted with radio tags to learn more about a somewhat resurgent stock.

“We want to keep a close eye on where these fish migrate and spawn,” said Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the Puyallup Tribe. The small population of steelhead in the Puyallup watershed, listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, are difficult to track because they don’t migrate in large numbers like salmon. Steelhead also don’t die after spawning like salmon, but can make multiple annual migrations between the ocean and river.

So far this year, around 300 steelhead from a genetic broodtsock program have returned, almost twice as many as the amount of wild fish. For four years the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes, along with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, have spawned around 20 wild steelhead taken annually from an adult trap on the White River. Their offspring are raised in tribal hatcheries and eventually released into the White River.