Lake Sammamish kokanee do not qualify for federal protection
October 3, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 11:15 a.m. Oct. 3, 2011
Federal fish and wildlife officials decided Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The species’ decline concerned U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials, but did not merit the fish being listed under the act.
The once-abundant kokanee has declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.
Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered. In the meantime, local, county and state agencies started spawning kokanee at the Issaquah hatchery to aid the species’ survival.
If the Fish & Wildlife Service lists a species as endangered, biologists create rules to protect the animal from human interference, designate critical habitat and joins state agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations to increase the species’ chance of survival.