American Shad Populations, Once Great, Now Minimal

By on May 25, 2016
Painting of shad fishing from the early 1800s. (Credit: William Tylee Ranney)

Got a thing for shad? Well, you would probably be in the minority these days just because it’s more difficult to find the fish than it once was. Back in the day, the early years of America, shad were much more abundant than they are now, according to a post from Atlas Obscura.

At that time, there were so many shad that territories had disputes over waterway rights to ensure their citizens could have access to them. George Washington apparently even harvested shad in Virginia. And there are tales that the British army tried to blockade a run of shad during the Revolutionary War in order to starve opposing troops.

Nowadays, the thought of such abundant shad is unheard of. So what caused the declines? Human actions, including the building of large-scale dams, appear to have greatly impacted the fish’s ability to reach their traditional spawning grounds and that has hurt their numbers over time.

Top image: Painting of shad fishing from the early 1800s. (Credit: William Tylee Ranney)

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