It is Said That a Man Throws Bleach Into an Oregon Hatchery Tank, Killing 18,000 Salmon

It is Said That a Man Throws Bleach Into an Oregon Hatchery Tank, Killing 18,000 Salmon

There are almost 200 programs in Oregon’s rivers that hold baby fish until they are ready to be released into the wild to finish their life cycle. Last week, someone broke into the Step program in Winchester Bay and put bleach into a Chinook salmon tank, killing about 18,000 fish.

Joshua Alexander Heckathorn, 20, was caught on April 23, one day after the chemicals were dumped into one of the hatchery’s ponds for raising fish. He lives in Gardiner, Oregon. A Facebook post from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says he told police that he had gone to a storage area the day before and picked up a bottle of bleach. Okay, Heckathorn was caught and taken to the Douglas County Jail on Tuesday on charges of second-degree theft, criminal trespass, and criminal mischief.

The worst punishment for taking Chinook salmon, which the Endangered Species Act protects, is $750 per fish. According to state fish and wildlife officials, Heckathorn could be asked to pay almost $14 million in fines for every salmon it kills. They also said that “the case represents a significant loss to the Step program,” a non-profit volunteer group that raises Chinook salmon for wildlife purposes.

The volunteers emptied the pond and took out the dead fish. The fish were then frozen and given to the Oregon State Police as proof.

“What could make someone do such a nasty thing?” The hatchery wrote on Facebook that the young fish would have added 200 to 400 fully grown salmon to the ocean, where they would have grown up and returned as adults in three to four years. This would have brought much-needed money into local markets.

The salmon smolt, which are three to four inches long, were set to swim to Alaska after being released into the lower Umpqua River in June. Oregon’s state fish is the chinook salmon. They hatch in streams with fresh water and grow there for a year before going to the ocean. Chinook spend anywhere from one to five years in the ocean before the smell of their home rivers tells them it’s time to spawn and die. They are the biggest type of Pacific salmon. Most of them grow to be 25 pounds, but some have been 100 pounds.

Salmon are no longer found in 40% of their original range. This is mostly because of human activity: in the ports of the Pacific Northwest, places that used to be rivers and streams are now cities and roads. The killer whales that live in the area and only eat salmon are also affected by their fall. Environmental groups say that taking down dams and limiting the number of fish people can catch are two possible ways to help the species stay alive.

It’s not the first time that Oregon’s nursery fish have been in danger. There were 160,000 rainbow trout killed in three hatcheries last year because they had a new bug. The fish were quickly given medicines, but they didn’t get better. The workers were trying to stop the parasite from spreading to other wild fish in Oregon waters.

Last month, changes in water pressure killed hundreds of thousands of young Chinook fish in the Klamath River. The disease was called “gas bubble disease.” Along the river, the biggest project to remove a dam in US history is currently underway. This is because tribes, fishers, and environmental groups have been pushing for years to make the river more natural.

There are still 60,000 fish in three other tanks at the hatchery that are almost a year old. They will be released in a few months to face the seas and a tough future.

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