Greenback cutthroat trout spawning in native range for first time since restoration efforts began
The state fish of Colorado was supposed to be extinct, but now they’re spawning. Find out more in this article from Hatch Magazine.
“Last week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that the first-ever documented spawning of greenbacks from the genetically pure Bear Creek lineage
Greenback cutthroat trout, the state fish of Colorado that was once thought to be extinct, are now spawning in their native watershed, Gov. Jared Polis announced on Friday.
The state of Colorado has had “on-again, off-again” success trying to restore greenback cutthroat trout to their native range within the South Platte River watershed. A genetically pure population of the fish was found in Bear Creek on the shoulders of Pikes Peak in 2012 in the Arkansas River drainage — the fish were likely planted there more than a century ago by a mountain lodge owner to create a recreational fishery for visitors. Before that, other relict populations were located, and stocking efforts were underway as early as the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the brood stock for those earlier efforts turned out to be genetically tainted with Colorado River cutthroat trout ancestry.
But last week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that the first-ever documented spawning of greenbacks from the genetically pure Bear Creek lineage has occurred in Herman Gulch west of Denver.
“While we will continue to stock greenback trout from our hatcheries, the fact that they are now successfully reproducing in the wild is exciting for the future of this species,” Polis said on Friday. “This is a huge wildlife conservation success story and a testament to the world-class wildlife agency Coloradans have in Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Colorado’s ecological diversity strengthens our community, supports our anglers, and our thriving outdoor recreation economy. CPW’s staff and our partner agencies have worked for more than a decade to restore this beloved state fish, and today’s news truly highlights the success of the work.”
Greenbacks were declared extinct from Colorado in the mid-1900s, victims of mining, road building, logging and general human development. But biologists and fisheries professionals never gave up hope. After the initial successes and failures with the tainted broodstock initially released in waters within the South Platte and Arkansas drainages, the discovery of a new generation of greenbacks spawned in the wild marks a major milestone in the recovery of the fish.”
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