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Native Cutthroat Trout Populations Rebounding in Yellowstone

Cutthroat trout are overcoming obstacles in Lake Yellowstone, and populations are finally rebounding.

Cutthroat trout numbers are on the rise in Lake Yellowstone after years of efforts to restore populations. According to NBC Montana, cutthroats have long been plagued by competition with non-native lake trout. Lake trout, illegally stocked in the lake decades ago, eat the native cutthroats.

Late in the 1990s, cutthroat trout in the lake were almost non-existent. However, recent efforts to remove the non-native lake trout appear to be paying off.

Dr. Todd Koel, Native Fish Conservation Program leader for Yellowstone Park, told NBC Montana, “We removed 315,000 non-native lake trout, and that’s a record year for us. That’s more lake trout than we’ve ever removed before. Cutthroat trout continue to see rebound in Yellowstone Lake. And we again saw an abundance of young juvenile fish recruiting back to the ecosystem.”

Cutthroat trout weren’t the only species suffering from the introduction of lake trout, though. Birds of prey, such as bald eagles and osprey, took a hit. The birds, which normally preyed on the smaller cutthroat trout, had to shift their diets or find new territories.

This is a prime example of why you should not move fish of any species from one body of water to another. One species can totally upset the balance of an ecosystem. Keep that in mind next time you hit the water.

NEXT: Footage of Spawning Brown Trout Will Make You Love the Species Even More

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Native Cutthroat Trout Populations Rebounding in Yellowstone