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Montana Seeks Public Comment To Remove Non-Native Trout From Bitterroot Valley Tributaries
Posted on Friday, May 19, 2017 (PST)

Montana 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 Rocks Dam.

 

Westslope 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.

 

Chris 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.”

 

Clancy said that Yellowstone Cutthroat likely entered the isolated drainage years ago, during a high mountain lake stocking operation.

 

A 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 shrose@mt.gov.

 

FWP 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.

 

Comments may also be submitted online or directed to Sharon Rose by mail to the address above, phone to 406-542-5540, or email to shrose@mt.gov by 5 p.m. on June 9, 2017.

 

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