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Parks and Wildlife Team Hikes Pikes Peak to Store Unique Cutthroat Trout in Fishless Stream – CBS Denver

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SPRINGS MANITOU, Colorado (CBS4) – Colorado cutthroat trout with unique genetics now swim in the waterways of Pikes Peak as Colorado Parks and Wildlife works to ensure a species rescued from a wildfire has a long future.

A team led by CPW Aquatic Biologist Cory Noble completed a 5-mile round-trip hike in cold, snowy weather this week on the Northwest Slope of Pikes Peak, carrying fish in backpacks for them. put in the North French Creek.

Biologists and a team roam Pikes Peak to store Hayden cutthroat trout (credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

“These are Colorado River cutthroat trout that were offspring of fish recovered from the South Branch of Hayden Creek in 2016, following the wildfire that destroyed everything that suited them in that stream,” explained Noble in a CPW SE video posted on Twitter.

The Hayden Pass fire destroyed 16,754 acres in July 2016. CPW and the US Forest Service teamed up to save some of the fish before the monsoon rains filled the creek with ash and sediment. The team rescued 158 of the fish and CPW has spent the past 5 years raising them at the Roaring Judy Hatchery in isolation to preserve their unique genes.

Cutthroat trout rescued after the 2016 Hayden Pass fire (credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

“They share a gene that was only found in another population of fish and these are fish that were collected from Twin Lakes in the 1800s,” Noble explained in the Twitter video. “They’re Colorado River cutthroat trout, but they don’t share this gene with any Colorado River watershed cutthroat trout. We want to bring them to a safe place where they can exist in the future. “

This meant finding high elevation streams that had no other fish, like North French Creek at an elevation of 10,400 to 12,000 feet. Approximately 3,000 of the trout now known as Hayden Creek Cutthroat have been released into North French Creek. CPW stored a total of 20,000 in five streams. The hope is to develop breeding populations.

Hayden swimming in North French Creek on Pikes Peak (credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

For Noble, this five-year mission is worth every step of this snowy hike.

“This is the culmination of a lot of work that my colleagues and I have done. It is a great privilege to be able to conserve these fish and protect them in the future.

Note: CPW says the genetic difference is a single base pair substitution in the ND2 gene, a subunit of the NADH dehydrogenase protein in mitochondria. CPW says it only uses a few base pair differences in the ND2 gene to tell the difference between Colorado species.



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