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Recovery of damages claim for unlawful killing of wildlife filed against the Winchester Water Control District and its contractors

October 6, 2023

ROSEBURG, Ore.–A $27.6 million claim for recovery of damages was filed today in the Douglas County Circuit Court against the Winchester Water Control District (WWCD) and associated contractors for the loss of at least 550,000 juvenile Pacific lamprey during the WWCD’s recent repairs to Winchester Dam. The number of lamprey killed as a result of an inadequate fish salvage effort was significant and preventable.

The North Umpqua River’s diverse fish populations are unique within Oregon and are of considerable social, cultural, and economic importance locally and regionally. The damages claim seeks reparation for the loss of a valuable public resource.

The claim was filed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and is one of the largest damages claims for illegal killing of wildlife that has been filed in the state.

Pacific lamprey are listed as a Sensitive Species on ODFW’s Sensitive Species List and are culturally significant to Pacific Northwest tribes.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality also issued a pre-enforcement notice to the WWCD for water quality violations associated with the Winchester Dam repairs in summer 2023. These violations risk significant environmental harm to the North Umpqua River. DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement is reviewing all the relevant details of the violations and will issue a final enforcement order in the next few weeks.

More information on the Winchester Dam repair project is available on ODFW’s website.


Contact: ODFW:
Michelle Dennehy, 503-931-2748,
Meghan Dugan, 541-315-6629,
Dylan Darling, 541-600-6119,
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