Angela Elliott gets ready to place a frozen salmon carcass into the upper reaches of Douglas Creek in January 2012. Volunteers are encouraged to attend Saturday to help volunteers from Saanich Parks

Toss a salmon carcass, feed an ecosystem

If you have never been allowed to play with your food, now is your chance.

If you have never been allowed to play with your food, now is your chance.

Mount Douglas Park, home to one of Greater Victoria’s urban salmon spawning creeks, is playing host to the Friends of Mount Douglas Park  annual salmon carcass toss on Saturday.

The public is welcome and encouraged to help throw about 100 frozen salmon carcasses in and around Douglas creek in an effort to feed vital nutrients into the creek’s ecosystem.

“It sounds negative but it is positive,” said Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society. “A lot of people don’t even know there is salmon in this creek.”

Provided by the Howard English Hatchery based near Goldstream Park in Langford, frozen salmon are fished from the waters of Goldstream river and transported to Mount Doug to decompose and provide food for insects and fauna.

Insects in turn, are consumed by the 20,000 to 40,000 young chum and coho fry that will hatch in the spring and become the next generation of salmon to spawn there.

The Friends of Mount Doug is the first society in Canada to obtain the permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to transport carcasses from one watershed to another.

Because the population of salmon at Douglas creek has not yet grown to the point where they naturally feed enough nutrients into the ecosystem, the annual carcass toss event remains a vital element to sustaining the population.

“We don’t have a lot of salmon coming back, the creek is somewhat sterile. We are trying to get it going,” Wick said. “I think it is really important. It is all these little creeks that provide the salmon habitat. If we want to  have salmon we have to make sure these little creeks survive. Salmon is a good indicator for the health of the ecosystem.”

The salmon carcass toss at Douglas Creek is Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet at the Edgemont Road park access point.

For more information, visit mountdouglaspark.ca.

alim@vicnews.com