Oregon Poachers Steal Spawning, Brood-Stock Steelhead

Do you know what’s easier than poaching fish with a rod and reel? Poaching fish from fish traps designed to retain hatchery brood-stock fish, and that’s exactly what’s been happening on Oregon’s Woodward Creek.

Woodward Creek is a very important steelhead run, as it is where state biologists collect mature brood-stock steelhead for hatchery spawning. There, the state has installed specially designed fish traps meant to hold returning hatchery steelhead as they make their way upstream. Unfortunately for these fish, poachers have taken notice of the fish sitting in the traps and run, and have begun plucking the ripest fish from the run.

ODFW biologists clearing the Woodward Creek fish trap in preparation for spawning winter steelhead.

“We’d get a call from a volunteer saying there were six or seven fish in a trap,” says district biologist Mike Gray. “Then when we got there, the trap was empty. We found evidence that the trap had been damaged, so we knew someone was getting in there.”

According to Oregon F&W, “District staff contacted OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers, and mounted trail cameras to monitor the traps and nearby waterway. The first night, they saw at least three people enter the area, access the trap, and then use a net to remove fish. The thefts came during a shortage of spawning fish in the Bandon Hatchery breeding program.”

To learn more about the incidences and help identify suspects, check out this press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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