Montana FWP Proposes Transfer of Cutthroat Trout within Thompson River Watershed
Kalispell — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing to transfer westslope cutthroat trout into fishless streams above natural waterfall barriers in the Thompson River drainage in Sanders and Flathead counties.
Under the proposal, FWP would take up to 1,500 native cutthroat from donor populations threatened by hybridization and transfer them into three fishless streams - Bear Creek, Murr Creek, and Shroder Creek - in order to preserve local genetics and increase secured habitat of the species. This effort would preserve local cutthroat trout genetics in up to 14 miles of secured habitat. These populations would provide a source of fish to augment downstream populations. In addition, this secure population would provide brood stock of locally adapted fish for reintroduction into other streams in the drainage should there be a need in the future.
The Thompson River is the largest tributary to the lower Clark Fork River below its confluence with the Flathead River.
Hybridization with rainbow trout is one of the greatest threats to westslope cutthroat trout persistence in today’s climate. In the Thompson River drainage in northwest Montana, introduced rainbow trout were the dominant mainstem trout species by the 1980s and native westslope cutthroat trout had been reduced to less than 1 percent of the population in the mainstem river. Pure westslope cutthroat trout still exist in many of the Thompson River tributaries but nearly all populations are threatened by advancing hybridization. Additionally, non-native brown and brook trout are moving farther up tributary streams and are known to outcompete native cutthroat trout elsewhere in Montana.
Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m., Sept. 4, 2020. To read the environmental assessment, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/.
Public comments can be submitted to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attention: Thompson River Westslope Cutthroat Trout Transfer, 5427 Highway 200, Thompson Falls, MT 59873, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitted through the FWP web portal.