Cutthroat trout reintroduced to southern Colorado waterways

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SOUTH COLORADO – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) continues to reintroduce one of the state’s most treasured animals to its natural habitat.

This week, CPW officers released baby Colorado cutthroat trout into southern Colorado waterways. These fish were released into the drainage of North French Creek because this body of water does not contain fish in its higher areas, which allows the trout to grow and reproduce.

The stocked fish are the offspring of approximately 200 fish collected from Hayden Creek near Salida, Colo. During the Hayden Pass fire in 2016. The fish were then taken to a CPW hatchery for protection.

CPW said that due to the fire the creek is still uninhabitable which is why they are putting the fish in other areas.

“When we have three to five stable populations in the Arkansas watershed, I will know that we are preserving this unique species,” said Janelle Valladares, PSICC fisheries biologist. “When I work on this project, I always think of environmentalist Aldo Leopold. He said, “Keeping every cog and every wheel is the first precaution in smart DIY.” We may not be sure exactly how this fish fits into the bigger picture, but despite the fires and floods, it is important to preserve as many species as possible until we have a more understanding full of their contribution to the environment.

Crews will store around 2,000 fish over the next few weeks and plan to store more over the next three years.

“Active management of these increasingly scarce fishing habitats is critical to maintaining the viability of these rare blushers,” said Oscar Martinez, Pikes Peak District Ranger. “I am delighted that we can capitalize on the unique characteristics of Ruxton and French Creeks to help us manage cutthroat in response to a growing number of stressors, such as climate change and wildfires.”

The fish are more closely related to the Colorado River cutthroat trout, but with unique genetics not found in any other trout population. The genetics of these cutthroat trout match museum specimens collected at Twin Lakes, near Leadville, Colorado, in 1890, according to CPW.


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