Construction on a $16 million hatchery complex continues on tribal property on the Clearwater River, where crews built a coffer dam and water intake system. By autumn, 1.2 million Snake River fall chinook and 620,000 spring chinook will be produced at the 26-acre hatchery, then trucked to satellite facilities and acclimated before being released. "The primary focus is to help recover natural runs of fish," said Ed Larson, director of artificial fish production for the tribe's fishery program. Officials plan to raise hatchery fish in conditions that closely mimic nature and better able to survive a 400-mile journey to the ocean. Raceways will simulate streams and rivers. Rearing facilities will have woody debris and other areas where fish can hide - they may even be subjected to predator training. The tribe wants to return fish to spawn in the river and its tributaries, not the hatchery, and hope they will boost wild populations listed under the Endangered Species Act. Satellite facilities will be constructed in the Lapwai Valley, on the Clearwater River, the lower Selway River and on Lolo Creek and Sweetwater Springs. The tribe's artificial production program now relies on shared space at state and federal facilities. Funding came from the Northwest Power Planning Council.
Despite advocate complaints federal trappers are busily eradicating wolves across central Idaho, the state's population has risen to at least 200 animals, tribal biologist Curt Mack said. But as the result of a bureaucratic quirk, Idaho may not end the year with 10 breeding pairs. Last spring, the federal Wildlife Services moved or killed wolves in Idaho's Jureano, White Cloud and Twin Peaks packs. Biologists have documented 18 packs - up from 14 last year - and 16 litters, totaling a minimum of 200 wolves, about 50 more than last year, Mack said. The tribe is in charge of Idaho's wolf recovery. Recovery rules require that Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone National Park each must document 10 breeding pairs for three consecutive years. Idaho has had 10 for the past two years. A Fish and Wildlife wolf manager said of the 16 Idaho litters, at least three pairs have only one pup. Another litter will not count because the alpha male bred two females that each had a litter. Only the alpha female's litter counts in the final tally. Two alpha males of the White Cloud and Stanley Basin packs were killed in control actions.