Mushers get 20,000 pounds of salmon to feed dogs

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2000

BRISTOL BAY (AP) -- When King Triton Fisheries declared bankruptcy earlier this year and abandoned its Wood River operations, it left behind 20,000 pounds of sockeye salmon in a container.

The fish would have gone to waste if not for the perseverance of Northland Services employee Steve Hardin. Instead, the salmon went to feed hungry dogs in areas where too few fish has left mushers wondering how to feed their dogs this winter.

Hardin was faced with the problem of disposing the fish to reclaim the container. He said he had heard that the fish were not fit for human consumption because they had soured when the water in the holding tanks wasn't changed.

''They looked like decent fish. You couldn't feed them to your family, but they would be good for dogs,'' Hardin said.

He couldn't take the fish to the city dump because of the problem of attracting bears. When he called the Department of Environmental Conservation, he was told he would have to take them a mile offshore and dump them. Then, the agency came up with a better idea. It suggested he distribute them to local mushers.

Hardin, being a musher himself, liked the idea. He had heard about mushers in the Yukon Delta and Kuskokwim areas having to shoot dogs because they couldn't feed them.

Thus began a long chain of telephone calls and faxes that finally culminated in the fish going to Fairbanks for distribution to needy mushers.

Hardin called Northern Air Cargo, which agreed to fly the fish to Anchorage for free. The Tanana Chiefs then said it would pay to have the fish trucked to Fairbanks. And Triton agreed to pay the bill to keep the container refrigerated until the mushers got their fish.

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