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Equipped with electric wands and dip nets, they were
looking for endangered suckers stranded in the
The "sucker salvage" has become an annual rite of autumn for the Bureau, which is required to avoid killing the fish that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Using battery-powered electrified wands several feet long, the biologists and technicians put 300 volts of electricity into the water that is up to 2 feet deep in spots.
The electricity stuns fish within 5 feet of the
wand. Workers wear insulated fishing waders and
thick rubber gloves to protect themselves from the
The number was down sharply last year, Bennetts
said, because of the addition of the $16-million
fish screen at the A Canal headgates.
Bennetts said he and two other Bureau employees,
along with two Klamath Irrigation District workers,
started the salvage last Tuesday in canals near
Malin. About 40 suckers, mostly young-of-the-year
fish that are a few inches long, were found in the
The crew started Thursday on the A Canal, the main
artery of the Klamath Reclamation Project that
diverts water from Upper Klamath Lake. The salvage
will be done this week, Bennetts said.
"They tend to run upstream when the water starts
going down and anywhere there's a blockage that's a
hot spot," Bennetts said.
"We don't always see them," he said.
Still, Piaskowski said, some tiny suckers manage to
get past the screen, and they can become stranded as
the water recedes.
Any suckers recovered from canals are loaded into a
green metal box in the back of a pickup, hauled to
Moore Park and plopped into Upper Klamath Lake.
Behind the crew a flock of gulls swarmed, feasting on the stunned chubs and minnows left in their wake.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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