Nez Perce Tribe

Department of Fisheries Resources Management


Salmonid Gametes Preservation Project

Chinook salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest are currently listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  In 1992, the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) in cooperation with Washington State University and the University of Idaho, established a germplasm repository that will aid in the conservation of the remaining salmonid biodiversity in the region.

The goal of this project is to preserve the genetic diversity of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River basin. This is accomplished using cryopreservation technology that enables long-term storage of male gametes (sperm). Because cryopreserved sperm remains viable for hundreds of years, these samples provide insurance against future loss of salmon and steelhead populations. This germplasm can be used to increase genetic diversity, reduce inbreeding, minimize divergence of hatchery populations and aid in the recovery of extinct populations.

Currently the repository has preserved gamete samples from a total of 2,990 Columbia River male Chinook salmon and 1,403 Columbia River male steelhead.  Approximately half of the material is currently stored in a repository at Washington State University and is available for use in hatchery broodstock management or for research purposes.  The remaining material is stored at the United States Department of Agriculture, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) repository in Fort Collins, Colorado as part of a long-term storage repository and is reserved for future recovery actions. 

Gametes are available for ongoing hatchery production.  Requests for gametes should be sent to Bill Young (  A formal request form is available here: (Cryo Request Form).  Project and University personnel are available to assist users with fertilization procedures and subsequent evaluations.  Requests for gametes are reviewed by an ad hoc Snake River Germplasm Repository Use Committee (SRGRUC), consisting of Tribal, University and Federal stakeholders. The committee evaluation process is used to ensure the effective and efficient use of cryopreserved gametes in critical recovery actions. 

Project Staff

billy@nezperce.orgBill YoungHatchery Evaluations
05(208) 621-3308x3308

Project Photos


To view documents associated with this project please visit our Publications Library
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