Three organizations, WDFW, Skagit River System Cooperative (Skagit Tribes) and Seattle City Light formed a partnership study to better understand how hatchery steelhead maybe effecting wild steelhead populations in the Skagit River watershed. By answering questions regarding genetic impacts of interbreeding wild/hatchery stocks, habitat competition while juveniles, and wild steelhead juvenile predations by hatchery smolts, hatchery steelhead programs can be adjusted to reduce these impacts, which should result in increased abundance of the natural steelhead stocks.
The second component of the study involves collection of basic genetic information needed to determine whether steelhead in the Skagit watershed are composed of a single homogeneous stock or if individual stocks of steelhead exist. The outcome of this genetic work may have profound effects on how federally listed steelhead from the Skagit are managed and hopefully recovered in the future. The third part of the study focuses on the collection of basic migratory behavior data from adult steelhead gained from acoustically tagging and monitoring the movement of steelhead prior to, during after spawning.
For additional information, an article highlighting this study, titled “Wild Steelhead Research on the Sauk and Skagit Rivers” was featured in on pages 5-6 of the November 2010 issue of The Adipose.