KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Environmentalists are sounding the alarm over poor sockeye salmon returns on one of British Columbia's most iconic rivers.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada calls the return of sockeye on the Adams River, near Kamloops, B.C., one of “nature's great spectacles.”

The government pamphlet published online says between 1.5- to two-million sockeye return every four year during dominant runs.

But Jim Cooperman of the Shuswap Environmental Action Society says only 3,000 sockeye returned this year, even though 149,000 came back during the same cycle on the river four years ago.

Cooperman says climate change is likely one of the factors and wonders if the low return is the “canary in the coal mine” for the entire salmon population.

Fisheries' area director Stu Cartwright said in September that officials were concerned because the returns on the river appeared to be considerably lower than biologists preferred.