Colorado Fish Believed to Be Extinct Found Thriving, Reproducing Naturally
Nurture and nature have come together in Colorado and the results are truly remarkable.
For decades, the aquatics team with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has worked to preserve the greenback cutthroat trout population and now they've found proof that their efforts have not been in vain.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout Once Considered Extinct
In 1937 the Greenback Cutthroat Trout was declared extinct, due to "pollution from mining, pressure from fishing and competition from other trout species." In 2012 Colorado Parks and Wildlife made a startingly discovery of a population of the fish living in Bear Creek. CPW acted quickly to protect the rare fish and began trying to help the population grow.
Efforts to Save Greenback Cutthroat Trout Population
Over the past decade, multiple teams have worked with CPW to collect milt (sperm) and roe (eggs) from the fish to fertilize each spring. Extra milt is taken to a hatchery to be combined with eggs that can be put in isolation to ensure optimal results.
Greenback fry that hatched from those eggs was placed in Herman Gulch west of Denver in 2016. Shortly after other streams in the South Platte drainage were also stocked.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout Reproducing at Herman Gulch
Recently, CPW aquatic biologists were studying the fish at Herman Gulch when they discovered Greenback Cutthroat Trout 12 inches in length along with fry.
“Our team of field technicians literally high-fived right there in the stream when we captured that first fry that was spawned this year,” stated Boyd Wright, aquatic biologist.
When moments later we captured a one-year-old fish produced in 2021, we were truly beside ourselves. After many years of hard work and dedication, it is extremely satisfying to see our efforts paying off
Harry Crockett, CPW’s native aquatic species coordinator and chair of the Greenback Recovery Team had this to say about the discovery:
We found a greenback that was born in Herman Gulch that was already a year old. This indicates successful reproduction both this year and last, plus overwinter survival. This is important because trout that survive to one year are likely to live even longer.
Thanks to CPW and its partners, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout is now reproducing successfully on their own and looks to have a real future that wasn't possible before.