Volunteers scoop up fish from B.C. streams hit hard by drought
A group of volunteers is scooping up fish from parched streams and moving them to where they’ll have a better chance at survival as hot, dry weather continues to deplete B.C.’s rivers and streams.
Young salmon in the Comox Valley are becoming stranded due to one of the hottest summers on record causing streams to dissipate.
On Tuesday, the government increased the drought rating for the entire south coast of the province to level four and indicated the further declines in stream levels could seriously impact fish stocks.
“If there’s no water flowing in and out of these little pools, they’re going to be trapped there, they’re going to be stressed and ill from the heat,” said Angela Spooner, who is coordinating a project to relocate at-risk fish.
“They can starve out because there’s no water flowing from upstream into those pools bringing them insects and smaller invertebrates for them to eat.”
Wayne White, president of the Tsolum River Restoration Club, said crews have been responding to tips from the public.
“We got a call from one of the neighbours here on Finlay Creek that the creek was drying quickly,” he said. “She noticed last week there was a fair amount of water in the creek and the pools were connected. When she went down yesterday, she noticed the pools were all starting to dry out.”
The lower water levels also mean the fish are much more vulnerable to predators like garter snakes and kingfishers.
Volunteers are mainly trying to net the fish but often have to use traps baited with salmon roe, White said.
“Hopefully the little fish will move into those traps and then we can move those tomorrow morning,” he said.
In most cases the fish are moved to the main Tsolum River where they have a much better chance of survival.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis