Idaho Power’s newest hatchery is dedicated to supporting native white sturgeon populations in the Snake River. Located next to our steelhead hatchery in the Snake River canyon south of Wendell, this hatchery was completed in 2021 and aims to raise 2,500 juvenile sturgeon to be released each spring.
White sturgeon are prehistoric fish that can grow to over 10 feet in length and weigh 300 pounds. Many live more than 80 years, and some 100-year-old sturgeon have been recorded.
Sturgeon begin their lives at Niagara Springs through a process called “repatriation” that is different from the traditional spawning methods used at our other hatcheries. Rather than using adult broodstock to provide eggs, Idaho Power biologists collect fertilized sturgeon eggs from known spawning areas in the Snake River.
Those eggs are brought to the hatchery in the spring where they are tended and reared by Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff for about 11 months. By that time, the juvenile sturgeon have grown to about a foot long and are released back into the Snake River.
This repatriation method more closely mimics the natural reproduction cycle of the sturgeon, ensuring a wide range of male-female pairs are represented in the hatchery. This in turn helps to preserve the genetic diversity of the wild population.