Since 2020 we have had a new wave of volunteers coming down to Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp to help organize the annual Fish Rescue. The Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp Fish Rescue, which started in the early ‘90s, has always been a favourite among locals and their families, as well as volunteers from around Alberta and even as far north as Edmonton! We get together to push fish to shallow waters where volunteers catch them. These fish are held in oxygenated holding tanks where they are measured and counted before we bring them down to the Oldman River and release them. Lethbridge University students help tally the fish, and regular volunteers arrive the day before to set up pumps, tanks, the fish slide, as well as help prepare food for the meals.
This year saw the return of many new volunteers who have been learning how to take on the Rescue so it can continue for as long as it needs to. This was an interesting year, as well, as we needed to replace some critical equipment such as the oxygen pump and regulator: these are what keep the fish alive! As well, the canal was lowered a day earlier than communicated and so we needed to hop to it as soon as we were able.
4000 fish were rescued which was a great number. Among these are the at-risk native bull trout. The Fish Rescue is a great opportunity for nature enthusiasts to learn about the different species which belong to the Oldman Watershed, and many attendees were excited to participate in data collection this year, learning how to measure and identify all the species.
We always serve a delicious meal for volunteers, and this year we were able to provide some local catering including bannock, vegan-friendly as well as meat-based chili, and even some tacos!
A Special Thanks to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative This Year!
We want to extend a special thanks to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, whose generous contributions helped us to get the equipment we needed to replace as well as ensure we could provide locally-prepared catering for our volunteers. Their mission is to connect the habitats from Yellowstone to the Yukon, and because of their focus on stewardship by connecting the numerous community-driven initiatives that can occur along this corridor we were able to save the fish for yet another year while empowering generations young and old down in the Oldman River Valley.
The Oldman Watershed Council remains a steadfast supporter as well, and we deeply appreciate all the work that they do. Be sure to learn about the watershed and support their initiatives and research!
Much Love to Volunteers for Their Support and Documentation This Year
Attendees and organizers had the opportunity to be interviewed by volunteer Adeline Gladu, who did a piece for the Calgary Journal on the Fish Rescue this year. Her article for the Calgary Journal, "Why volunteers rescue 1,000s of stranded fish every fall from this irrigation canal", will hopefully bring the attention of a whole new range of people.
We deeply appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep the Rescue going year after year, and we’d like to give a special shoutout to Matt Wallace with City Nature Challenge YYC for their reporting and stories shared through Instagram! The photos included in this post were all his, and he was able to collect so much video for us!
Check out these highlights from the Fish Rescue, as reported on by City Nature YYC!