BRIDGEPORT, Douglas County — Two months after the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation opened the Chief Joseph Hatchery, thieves made off with dozens of summer chinook being held for broodstock.

Losing an estimated 42 adult fish that were ready to produce more than 73,000 young salmon for later release was bad enough.

But even worse, tribal officials are warning that those who took the fish have exposed themselves to a cancer-causing chemical.

The fish, in a broodstock pen below the hatchery, were treated with formalin and should not be handled or eaten, a notice posted on the Colville Tribes’ website says.

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“If you believe you have consumed or handled these fish, then it is recommended that you should immediately seek medical attention,” it says.

Colville Tribal Police are offering a $500 reward for information leading to conviction of the poachers.

Tribal Chairman said people should be cautious of any salmon that may have come from an unlikely source and contact tribal officials.