The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


October 6, 2012

Rare trout in Colorado

ENID, Okla. — There is a rare trout in Colorado that is found nowhere else in the world. The greenback cutthroat trout originally was from east of the Continental Divide in the Arkansas and South Platte River basins from Wyoming to New Mexico.

Mining led to sediment and toxic runoff into the rivers and, by 1930, the species was considered extinct. In 1957, a small population of the Greenback was found in Rocky Mountain National Park. In 1965 and 1970, additional populations were found in Colorado. In 1973, the species was listed on the endangered species list. By 1978, the Greenback was moved to the threatened species list.

Two distinct genetic lineages occur, one in northwest Colorado and the second one in Gunnison River Basin.

The greenback cutthroat trout is hard to distinguish from the cutthroat trout without expert biologist identification. The greenback has an orange or red stripe located on the lower side of the gill cover.  Dark spots are concentrated on the upper and rear portions on the body. Body color ranges from pale yellow to intense shades of orange and red and can change seasonally. 

The trout prefer water temperatures under 71.6 degrees. Spawning takes place in water temperatures of 44.6 to 50 degrees.  Spawning occurs in April through July with eggs hatching from gravel beds between August and November. The fry are considered adults at three years.

The cutthroat is a sight-feeding predator. Its diet consists of aquatic insects like mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. A favorite summer food is grasshoppers.

Non-native species like brook trout and rainbow trout are the main threat to their survival.

The only true wild, pure genetic greenback cutthroat trout lives in a four mile stretch of Bear Creek southwest of Colorado Springs and is estimated at 750 individuals.

Supreme Court rejects roadless rule

On Oct. 1, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule was designed to limit road building and timber harvest on underdeveloped public lands managed by the USDA.

Roadless areas help sustain valuable fish and wildlife habitat and unique public lands hunting and fishing opportunities.

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