Someone broke into a fish hatchery east of Seattle Tuesday morning and released 25,000 hatchery steelhead.
Officials think the vandal was someone who likes to fish. More specifically, someone who isn’t pleased about a recent legal victory for wild fish groups.
Earlier this spring the Wild Fish Conservancy filed a lawsuit against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This prompted the agency’s decision to hold off from releasing hatchery steelhead into almost all Puget Sound Rivers.
That meant 900,000 fewer hatchery fish for tribal members and anglers to catch.
And there are a lot of people who aren’t happy about that.
For years, wild fish advocates have raised concerns about the evidence suggesting that hatchery fish can interbreed with wild fish and may be harming those runs. Those concerns have led to a string of lawsuits around the region.
Wild Fish advocates have called for a full investigation into the break-in at the Tokul Creek hatchery.
Clarification: May 14, 2014. A lawsuit filed by the Wild Fish Conservancy prompted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to hold off from releasing hatchery steelhead. This was not clearly explained in an earlier version of this story.