Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, was once thought to be completely extinct, but state biologists announced Friday that the species is now reproducing on its own.
In 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife began stocking Herman Gulch near Silver Plume with newly hatched fish in hopes they would one day breed. The fish brought to Herman Gulch are now mature and repopulating without human assistance.
“It’s just another assertion that our conservation practices are working and that we can save species from the brink,” said CPW aquatic scientist Kevin Rogers.
Federal authorities first listed the green-backed cutthroat as extinct in the 1930s, but small populations in Colorado discovered in 1957, 1965, and 1970 have left the species a tenuous, but consistent, presence on national lists. ‘endangered species.
Biologists later discovered that these populations were not purebred green trout. They were actually a similar-looking subspecies. But in 2012, researchers discovered the world’s only natural purebred animal. population of greenback cutthroat trout in a 3.5 mile run from Bear Creek.
Since that discovery, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has operated a trout hatchery to maintain sustainable population levels.
“Each spring, CPW aquatic biologists strapped on heavy electrofishing backpacks to painstakingly swim up Bear Creek to catch greenbacks and collect milt and roe – sperm and eggs,” a CPW statement read. .