Glacier Park is showing good success in recovering a depleted bull trout population . . .
Glacier National Park, historically one of the last best strongholds for native bull trout, has seen its wild populations decimated by the explosion of invasive lake trout, reducing Montana’s aquatic darling to an imperiled icon and pushing the species toward the brink of extinction.
But biologists with Glacier Park and the U.S. Geological Survey have pioneered a new effort to suppress lake trout in remote backcountry lakes and reintroduce dwindling bull trout populations, with recent results showing strong evidence of success, and indicating that the efforts could be applied to other invaded habitats and broader ranges.
“New results are promising. The park is kind of spearheading these innovative and proactive ways to save bull trout,” Clint Muhlfeld, an aquatic biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), said. “It’s been so rewarding to have our science apply to on-the-ground management and leading conservation efforts in Glacier.”
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Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ South Fork Flathead Cutthroat Conservation Project is just about wrapped up. They’ve got three lakes left in their effort to restore a genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout population to the South Fork Flathead River drainage.
From the official press release . . .
Project status: The South Fork Flathead Cutthroat Conservation Project has been systematically removing non-native fish and replacing them with pure westslope cutthroat. The goal has been to maintain the world class genetically pure westslope cutthroat fishery in the South Fork Flathead River Drainage. FWP Project Biologist Matt Boyer reports that 12 mountain lakes have been successfully chemically treated and an additional 6 lakes are being genetically swamped and may not require chemical treatment. Only three lakes remain on the original list of 21 encompassed by the project in the South Fork Flathead Drainage.
This year’s activities and limit waiver: This year, Koessler Lake is scheduled for rotenone treatment in September. Koessler is an 86 acre lake located at the head of the Gordon Creek drainage within the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. The lake was historically stocked with nonnative Yellowstone cutthroat trout and presently contains westslope cutthroat/Yellowstone cutthroat trout hybrids. Koessler is a remote backcountry angling destination. In past years, anglers have asked for limit waivers to allow more harvest of fish prior to treatment. The current bag limit is 3 trout per day. The proposal to lift the fishing bag limit on Koessler Lake will be submitted to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission. The FWP Commission will evaluate public comments and consider final approval of this proposal at their July meeting. It would go into effect immediately upon approval. Please contact your local Fish and Wildlife Commissioner if you have comments; address comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here’s a rather upbeat look at species recovery efforts across Montana . . .
Montanans are living in wild times.
For proof, just look at the big picture. There are elk, bison and bighorn sheep grazing in the prairie regions of Eastern Montana where they had previously been exterminated. Large predators like grizzly bears, mountain lions and gray wolves prowl the western forests of the state after declining to record lows.
In the state’s rivers, Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat trout, as well as endangered pallid sturgeon, are being planted to enhance their declining populations. Even in towns and cities wildlife are resurging as geese crowd golf course ponds, mule deer nibble on resident’s shrubbery and ducks, rabbits and Merriam’s turkeys commonly strut across manicured lawns.
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