MCCALL, Idaho -- Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials say about 60,000 Chinook salmon fry died last week due to a water supply problem at the McCall Fish Hatchery.

The problem was reported at 8 a.m. on Jan. 24. Biologists say supply valves that deliver water to two of 11 incubator stacks containing Chinook salmon fry were blocked by debris. That reduced the inflow to a trickle and led to the deaths. Two groups of Chinook salmon were affected.

One salmon group was reduced by about 35,300 fry, which represents 3.3 percent of the inventory. The estimated remaining inventory is still more than 1,000,000 fry, which biologists say should be sufficient to reach their target release in the South Fork Salmon River.

A second group was reduced by about 25,400 fry. The estimated remaining inventory is 92,600 fry, representing 92 percent of the smolt release goal for this group. The fish are produced to supplement natural fish production in Johnson Creek, a tributary to the South Fork Salmon River.

The affected water supply has since been shut down, inspected, flushed and put back into operation. Additionally, preventive measures have been implemented.

Officials says this is the first incident of its kind at the McCall hatchery in more than 30 years of operation.

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