BEND, Ore. — Two Pacific lampreys have been released back into the Umatilla River after spending months at the High Desert Museum in Central Oregon.

The Bulletin reports ( ) the museum housed the fish in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which is trying to prevent the lamprey from becoming an endangered species.

Associate curator Jessica Stewart says the museum plans to regularly house and release lampreys, making them a consistent attraction. She says their presence has helped educate the public about fish that are a critical part of the ecosystem.

Pacific lampreys were historically abundant in the Upper Deschutes watershed, but their population has declined because of dams.

Through the work of the tribes, more have made it upstream this year. The tribes collect lampreys at Willamette Falls and Bonneville Dam, and drive them to rivers and streams in Eastern Oregon.

Information from: The Bulletin,

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