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Media Contact: Becky Elder, 360-701-7026
OLYMPIA – Yesterday Jan. 24, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) suffered a tragic loss of an employee who passed away while working at a fish trap on the Duckabush River in Jefferson County. Mary Valentine, a seasonal scientific technician with the WDFW Fish Program’s Science Division, was working a smolt trap on Tuesday, Jan. 23, and did not check in with team members that evening. That following morning, she was reported missing, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office responded along with WDFW Officers. Mary was recovered from the water by officers and transported by Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office led the initial investigation. The case has been referred to the Jefferson County Coroner for further review.
“We are extremely saddened with this loss,” said Director Kelly Susewind. “Mary was a dedicated employee since 2022 and very committed to our work monitoring salmon and steelhead populations. She was a beloved team member at WDFW. Our hearts are with her family and all who knew and worked with her.”
Trapping of downstream migrating juvenile salmon in freshwater is conducted seasonally in watersheds statewide to count smolts migrating out of river systems, as part of monitoring status and trends of salmon and steelhead populations. WDFW has temporarily suspended smolt trap activities at the Duckabush River.