Spawning migration of adult male chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha was monitored by radio telemetry to determine their response to the presence of metals contamination in the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, Idaho. The North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River is relatively free of metals contamination and was used as a control. In all, 45 Chinook salmon were transported from their natal stream. Wolf Lodge Creek, tagged with radio transmitters, and released in the Coeur d'Alene River 2 km downstream of the confluence of the South Fork and the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. Fixed telemetry receivers were used to monitor the upstream movement of the tagged chinook salmon through the confluence area for 3 weeks after release. During this period, general water quality and metals concentrations were monitored in the study area. Of the 23 chinook salmon observed to move upstream from the release site and through the confluence area, the majority (16 fish, 70%) moved up the North Fork, and only 7 fish (30%) moved up the South Fork, where greater metals concentrations were observed. Our results agree with laboratory findings and suggest that natural fish populations will avoid tributaries with high metals contamination.
Additional publication details
Movements of adult chinook salmon during spawning migration in a metals-contaminated system, Coeur d'Alene River, Idaho