A Standard Operating Procedure for the Preparation of Purposely Killed Juvenile Salmon Used to Test Survival Model Assumptions

Open-File Report 2020-1083
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
By: , and 



This document describes a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the preparation of purposely killed juvenile salmon, implanted with telemetry transmitters, to be released into rivers, lakes, or streams to test one of the survival model assumptions. Procedures for releases of purposely killed fish (hereinafter dead fish releases) were developed by staff from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia River Research Laboratory, on the basis of laboratory experiments and practical experience with telemetry studies in the Columbia River Basin. Initially, we used extended exposure to high dose anesthetic baths to euthanize fish for dead fish releases. This approach was selected on the basis of euthanization procedures described in the literature for studies that required an effective and rapid procedure, such as stress physiology assessments. Ultimately, this technique was deemed insufficient because detection records suggested that some fish seemed to revive and continue their migration with limited effect. That is, the detection histories of dead fish were very similar to those of live fish. To overcome this challenge, we adapted our procedures to require a combination of euthanization procedures on individual fish to ensure that there was no opportunity for revival. A combination of euthanization procedures for dead fish releases was used in one study in Germany. This SOP has been used by the U.S. Geological Survey to test survival model assumptions in several field studies and has consistently performed well. In addition, limited laboratory tests were completed to ensure that no live juvenile salmon were found in holding tanks for 24 hours following the procedures described in this SOP.

Suggested Citation

Tomka, R.G., Liedtke, T.L., Frost, C., and Smith, C.D., 2020, A standard operating procedure for the preparation of purposely killed juvenile salmon used to test survival model assumptions: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1083, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201083.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Background
  • Purpose and Applicability
  • General Considerations
  • Procedures
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. An Example Quality Assurance/Quality Control Dead Fish Standard Operating Procedure Log

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title A standard operating procedure for the preparation of purposely killed juvenile salmon used to test survival model assumptions
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2020-1083
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201083
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description iv, 11 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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