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Chinook salmon now ‘functionally extinct’

 By Lawrie Crawford  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Chinook salmon counts in 2022 saw a precipitous drop following alarming lows in the two previous years. From numbers in the last century in the range of 160,000 chinook, the last three years have been catastrophic, with only 30,000 coming across the border in 2021 and 2022. This year witnessed death knell numbers at 11,000, with only a bare 164 chinook salmon making it through the Whitehorse fish ladder. At the post-season Yukon River Panel meeting in December, Don Toews called on the committee to recognize that the species is now “functionally extinct.” The reasons for the drop can be debated, but he says that that the reality is that the chinook are no longer able to fulfill their ecological function. That function

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