MARE ISLAND, Calif. (AP) — In drought-stricken California, young Chinook salmon are hitting the road, not the river, to get to the Pacific Ocean.
Millions of six-month-old smolts are hitching rides in tanker trucks because California's historic drought has depleted rivers and streams, making the annual migration to the ocean too dangerous for juvenile salmon.
California has been trucking hatchery-raised salmon for years to bypass river dams and water diversion pumps.
But this year state and federal wildlife agencies are trucking nearly 27 million smolts, about 50 percent more than normal, because of the drought, officials said.
Trucking the smolts ensures a large number will survive and grow to be prized California king salmon. But skipping the river journey means the migratory fish won't know how to swim home to spawn in three years.