BANGOR — Atlantic salmon are returning to the Penobscot River in the largest numbers in eight years.

The Bangor Daily News reports the fish are showing up at the Milford Dam fish trap, where they’re being counted by Maine Department of Marine Resources staffers.

Jason Valliere, a marine resources scientist for the agency, says the biggest salmon return in the past eight years continues to grow, with a total estimated trap return of 1,170.

The salmon’s return to the river generates a lot of attention from conservationists because the fish are considered endangered by the federal government.

Since a historic low of 255 salmon recorded in 2014, an average of 701 fish have returned to the Penobscot each year before this year’s upward trend.

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