Fish, Wildlife and Parks seeks public review of its proposal to remove
non-native and hybridized cutthroat trout in the upper portion of Overwhich
Creek and its tributaries in the southwest Bitterroot Valley, above Painted
Cutthroat Trout are native to Montana, west of the continental divide.
Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, although native to Montana, are not native to the
Bitterroot watershed. Under the proposal, Yellowstone and hybridized cutthroats
would be removed from the upper reaches of the creek and its tributaries
(immediately above Overwhich Falls) using the fish toxin rotenone. Overwhich
Falls is in a remote location about 15 miles upstream of where it flows into
the West Fork Bitterroot River.
Clancy, FWP fisheries biologist, says that recent genetic testing data
indicates that most of the cutthroat trout throughout the West Fork Bitterroot
drainage above Painted Rocks Dam are pure Westslope Cutthroats. Removal of this source population of
non-natives will help keep the native population intact. Presently there are at least 200 miles of
pure westslope streams upstream of Painted Rocks Reservoir.
“It’s not often that you find large intact
populations of pure Westslope Cutthroat Trout that have a good chance of
staying that way, with little threat from non-natives,” Clancy said. “Removing
non-native cutthroats from about 10 miles of water gives the basin a unique
opportunity to maintain native cutthroats.”
said that Yellowstone Cutthroat likely entered the isolated drainage years ago,
during a high mountain lake stocking operation.
draft Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared for this proposal. Find the EA online at fwp.mt.gov, under
“News,” and “Recent Public Notices;” by mail from Region 2 FWP, 3201 Spurgin
Rd., Missoula 59804; phone 406-542-5540; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
will hold a public hearing in Hamilton on Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. at the
Bitterroot National Forest Headquarters (1801 North 1st Street) to discuss the
proposal, answer questions, and take public comment.
may also be submitted online or directed to Sharon Rose by mail to the address
above, phone to 406-542-5540, or email to email@example.com by 5 p.m. on June 9,