People are asking: What’s happening at the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery? What are those structures being built around the ponds?

The question
What’s happening at the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery? What are those structures being built around the ponds?

The answer
The structures are frames for nets that will be used to keep birds of prey from fishing in the ponds.

Eric Jones, the manager of the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery, said osprey have been taking 60 percent of the hatchery’s production from the ponds – that’s between 60 and 80 catchable fish per day. Other birds of prey, including bald eagles, egrets and great blue heron are also known to fish in the ponds, though osprey are the main problem, Jones said.

When the net is complete, the poles, which are approximately 18 feet high, will be strung with a series of steel wires about four inches apart so birds can’t get through. The sides will be covered with vinyl bird netting.

The cost of the structure will be approximately $275,000, Jones said. The money is coming from the California Department of Fish and Game’s Hatchery and Inland Fisheries Fund, which is generated by sales of sport fishing licenses, according to the California Department of Finance.

Jones said it takes 15 months for the hatchery to raise a fish from egg to a catchable length of eight to 12 inches long. These fish are used to stock local rivers and lakes, including the McCloud and Sacramento Rivers.

Jones said everything possible is being done to make the nets as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and though he’s aware some people may not like them, they are necessary in order to raise enough fish to stock local fishing areas and to keep costs at the hatchery down.