Biologists with the Yakama Nation Fisheries released 170 Pacific lamprey into Methow Valley rivers over the past two weeks in an effort to rebuild the dwindling population of the eel-like fish.
This is the second year that the fish have been released in the Methow Valley, said Ralph Lampman, a research biologist specializing in lamprey.
“They are an ancient fish. They have been around since before the dinosaurs,” Lampman said as he moved fish from a large cooler into buckets to carry them down to the Methow River in Twisp this week.
The fish are collected near dams on the lower Columbia River and are released in rivers around the region, including the Methow, Yakima and Wenatchee basins.
Lampman said lamprey have a hard time getting through fish ladders on the Columbia River dams, which has contributed to their diminished numbers.
The fish are a traditional food of the Yakama people, and are very nutritious, Lampman said.
The fish were released in the upper part of the Methow Valley, by the bridge over the Methow River in Twisp, and near the mouth of the Methow River where it enters the Columbia River, Lampman said.