Comments: On a range-wide scale, this species is not significantly threatened. However, many subspecies and populations face serious threats (see separate accounts).
Declines in winter steelhead stocks from the Siuslaw River north to Tillamook Bay, Oregon, may have resulted from deterioration of ocean feeding conditions, widespread use of hatchery stock, predation by marine mammals, and ocean drift-net fishing (Nehlsen et al. 1991). Declining winter catches on the Illinois River (tributary to the Rogue River), Oregon, since the mid-1970s have been attributed to water withdrawal for irrigation (Nehlsen et al. 1991). In the Columbia River basin, winter stocks are threatened by habitat degradation, main stem passage problems, and interactions with hatchery fish (Nehlson et al. 1991). Declines in several winter populations in the Puget Sound area of Washington have resulted from habitat degradation (e.g., water quality problems, siltation, and sedimentation); predation by sea lions has been reported as a problem for the Lake Washington population (Nehlsen et al. 1991). Whirling disease has caused population declines in some areas. The disease is caused by a protozoan pathogen (inadvertently introduced from Europe) and involves tubifex worms as an alternate host. Brown trout (Salmo trutta) are unaffected by the protozoan and serve as a reservoir.