Yellowstone Forever

August 17, 2016

Native Fish Conservation Program

Photos from the frontlines

One of Yellowstone National Park's top conservation priorities is to decrease the number of non-native lake trout. In recent years, these predatory invaders have dramatically reduced the number of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. This has a direct impact throughout the ecosystem, as cutthroat are an important food source for eagles, grizzlies, otters, and other wildlife species. Yellowstone Forever funding of the Native Fish Conservation Program is enabling a significant effort to suppress lake trout through gillnetting on the lake. Check out these images from the frontlines of the fight to save Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Carrington Island

Tiny Carrington Island in Yellowstone Lake is known as a significant lake trout spawning area because of the submerged rocky zones surrounding the island. NPS/Todd Koel


Young Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone cutthroat fry. A three-fold increase in juvenile fish show that current efforts are having an impact and cutthroat trout numbers in Yellowstone are on the rise.  ©Jay Fleming


Lake Trout

Lake trout caught by the crew of the NPS Hammerhead. NPS/Neal Herbert


Looking for lake trout eggs in lake sediment

SCA (Student Conservation Association) worker searches for lake trout eggs in sediment from the lake bottom. NPS/Neal Herbert


Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

A submerged view of cutthroat trout in shallow water. Biologists estimate 41 cutthroat trout are saved each year for every mature lake trout caught. ©Jay Fleming


Lake Trout Eggs, Carrington Island, Yellowstone Lake

Carrington Island Lake trout eggs. To complement the gillnetting effort, biologists are applying electric shock to kill the eggs. ©Jay Fleming


Workers laying gillnets on Yellowstone Lake

Workers laying gillnets on Yellowstone Lake. These nets are pulled twice a week to count and examine caught lake trout. Gillnetting has removed more than two million lake trout from Yellowstone Lake since 1994. Yellowstone Forever/Matt Ludin


Giant lake trout

Ranger holding lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake. Lake trout can have a lifespan of more than 30 years, and the largest lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake was 35 pounds. NPS photo


Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone River

Yellowstone cutthroat trout ready for release in the Yellowstone River. Yellowstone cutthroat trout are one of 11 native species in Yellowstone. All native fish must be released by anglers unharmed. ©Mike Canetta


Visitors fishing on Yellowstone Lake

Visitors fishing on Yellowstone Lake by canoe. Should Yellowstone cutthroat be listed as endangered species, angling opportunities could be greatly reduced. Yellowstone Forever/Matt Ludin


Osprey carrying Yellowstone cutthroat trout - Cindy Goeddel

It's about more than the fish: biologists believe that more than 40 species of wildlife—like this osprey—depend on Yellowstone cutthroat trout as a primary food source. ©Cindy Goeddel Photography

Learn more about the Native Fish Conservation Program and how you can help save Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.


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