Atlantic stocking salmon, photo/NEB, Tom Richardson.

Atlantic stocking salmon, photo/NEB, Tom Richardson. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is no longer stocking the Merrimack River with Atlantic salmon because of low population returns and budgetary concerns.

‘‘This was a hard decision, but the science tells us that there is little chance that we will successfully restore Atlantic salmon to the Merrimack,’’ Wendi Weber, the Service’s Northeast regional director, said Thursday. ‘‘While the science is driving our decision, our declining budgets hastened it. We need to prioritize. With the lack of success, we need to shift our scarce resources to priority restoration efforts where we can make a difference. ‘‘

More than 1 million salmon fry were released into the river every year for decades. Last year, only 750,000 fish were released.

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