Lamprey ramp installed on North Umpqua dam

Lamprey ramp installed on North Umpqua dam
File photo.

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — A dam on the North Umpqua River near Roseburg has been modified to make the spawning migration easier for lamprey — a jawless fish that is often mistaken for an eel.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says they have put a lamprey ramp on the Winchester Dam. The $50,000 cost was covered by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant.

The numbers of lamprey crossing the dam have fallen from 30,000 in the 1960s to just 200 in recent years, reflecting a coast-wide decline.

Like salmon, lamprey spend part of their life in the ocean and return to their native rivers to spawn. While they can work their way over big waterfalls by grabbing onto rocks with their sucker-like mouths, they have trouble with dams and fish ladders.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.