Saving the Rare San Juan Cutthroat Trout

06/05/2020
NEWS BRIEFS
Cox Canyon, New Mexico fire started July 3 is 130 acres, no containment, no structures threatened, no cause determined, Bureau of Land Management in charge... - The Sand Creek Fire (Pagosa) is 103 acres, 0 structures threatened, 80 personnel, fire and drone restrictions in place...Yellow Jacket Fire: 395 acres, 95% containment, no structures threatened, no evacuations ordered. . . Spring Fire: 120 acres, 0% containment, 80 personnel, no structures threatened, no evacuations ordered. . . Morefield Fire: 46 acres in Mesa Verde National Park, no containment, no park service interruptions. . .
Southwest Colorado confirmed COVID-19 cases by county: La Plata (131), Archuleta (11), Montezuma (74), Dolores (0), San Juan (1). Deaths due to Covid: Montezuma (2), Deaths among cases: LaPlata (1), Montezuma (1), sjbpublichealth.org, montezumacounty.org
Colorado COVID-19 totals: 34,065 cases, 5,565 hospitalized, 1,701 deaths among cases, 1,521 deaths due to COVID-19, 352,758 tested, 366 outbreaks, colorado.gov
Red flag warning is in effect through Tuesday, a fire weather watch is in effect for Wednesday, National Weather Service, forecast.weather.gov

A rare subspecies of cutthroat trout found only in isolated streams of the San Juan Mountains is on its way back from near extinction, thanks to biologists at the Colorado State Fish Hatchery.

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A RARE CUTTHROAT TROUT SUBSPECIES RESCUED FROM HERMOSA CREEK AFTER THE 416 FIRE WILL BECOME THE ADAM AND EVE OF THE FISHES' RECOVERY FROM NEAR EXTINCTION. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY NICE ELECTRIC IN CORTEZ AND FOUR CORNERS AESTHETICS AND WOMEN'S HEALTH IN DURANGO. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. A RARE SUBSPECIES OF CUTTHROAT TROUT RESCUED FROM THE HERMOSA DRAINAGE FOLLOWING THE 416 FIRE TWO YEARS AGO PRODUCED THEIR FIRST SPAWN AT THE COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE FISH HATCHERY THIS SPRING. WHEN THE EGGS HATCH LATER THIS SUMMER, SOME OF THE FINGERLINGS WILL BE USED TO RE-STOCK THEIR NATIVE STREAMS AND SOME WILL BE USED TO START A CAPTIVE BROOD POPULATION TO REBUILD THE RARE GENETIC LINEAGE. ALTHOUGH RED-STREAKED CUTTHROAT ARE FOUND THROUGHOUT THE WESTERN SLOPE, THE SAN JUAN CUTTHROAT SUBSPECIES HAS UNIQUE GENETIC MARKERS THAT DEVELOPED OVER THE CENTURIES IN ISOLATED CREEKS THAT FEED THE SAN JUAN RIVER DRAINAGE. IN THE 1980s AND '90s, BIOLOGISTS RESEARCHING BACKCOUNTRY WATERWAYS IN THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS FOUND CUTTHROATS IN EIGHT SMALL STREAMS THAT THEY SUSPECTED WERE UNIQUE TO THOSE HABITATS AND THAT COULD BE THE LAST REMAINING SURVIVORS OF A SUBSPECIES THAT WERE THOUGHT TO TO BE EXTINCT. AT THE TIME, SCIENTISTS LACKED THE TECHNOLOGY TO FULLY ANALYZE THEIR GENETIC FINGERPRINTS AND CONFIRM THEIR SUSPICIONS. THEN, IN 2012, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO RESEARCHERS LOOKING FOR CUTTHROAT TROUT SPECIMENS AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY FOUND TWO THAT HAD BEEN TAKEN FROM THE SAN JUAN RIVER NEAR PAGOSA SPRINGS IN 1874. FINALLY, IN 2018, SCIENTISTS HAD THE TECHNOLOGY TO CONFIRM THAT THE GENETIC MARKERS FROM THE FISH HARVESTED IN 1874 MATCHED THOSE OF THE MODERN-DAY FISH CAUGHT IN THE WILD.
BACK IN THE 1800s. WHEN PEOPLE WERE FIRST COMING OUT HERE, THEY WERE COLLECTING SPECIMENS AND SENDING THEM TO THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM TO, FOR LATER ANALYSIS AND TO SHOW WHAT SPECIES ARE NATIVELY HERE IN THESE AREAS. AND THEY DID THAT ALL OVER THE COUNTRY WITH, YOU KNOW, ALL, ALL KINDS OF FISH. THIS LINEAGE HERE IN THE SAN JUANS, IT'S A VERY GOOD, YOU KNOW, TRUE CONSERVATION STORY OF A FISH THAT WAS STOPPED, THOUGHT TO BE EXTANT NUMEROUS YEARS AGO. AND THROUGH BIOLOGISTS CHECKING WATERS AND RESEARCHERS BEING ABLE TO DO THE GENETICS HAS BROUGHT BACK TO THE FOREFRONT THAT THIS FISH IS SOMETHING SPECIAL. WHEN THE 416 FIRE ERUPTED IN 2018 NORTH OF DURANGO, STATE WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS WERE CONCERNED THAT SOME OF THE LAST OF THE SAN JUAN CUTTHROAT COULD BE DESTROYED BY THE ASH AND MUD FLOWS THAT FOLLOWED. THAT'S WHEN THEY DECIDED TO RESCUE THE SURVIVING FISH.USUALLY, WE TRY AND TAKE WILD SPAWN AND JUST BRING THE EGGS IN AND HATCH AND THEN DEVELOP A BROODSTOCK FROM THERE. BUT AFTER THE 416 FIRE AND DURING THE 416 FIRE, WE THOUGHT THAT THOSE FISH COULD BE ENDANGERED IN THOSE STREAMS AFTER THE RUNOFF FROM THE HEAVY MUD FLOWS. AND SO WE WENT UP AND WE BROUGHT IN 54 FISH AND ABOUT A HUNDRED EGGS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO GET A WILD SPAWN OFF OF UP THERE. AND THEN I'VE NURSED THEM HERE AT THE HATCHERY FOR TWO YEARS. AND THIS YEAR IS THE FIRST SPAWN FROM THOSE WILD FISH THE GENETICALLY RARE WILD TROUT WERE NO MORE THAN 3 OR 4 INCHES IN SIZE WHEN THEY WERE CAPTURED. THEY HAVE BEEN GROWING IN A SPECIAL ISOLATION HATCHERY FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS, AND THIS SPRING, MOURNING FINALLY HARVESTED THE FIRST EGGS AND SPERM TO BEGIN THE HATCHERY'S CUTTHROAT BROOD STOCK. THE EGGS WILL DEVELOP IN SPECIAL INCUBATION TRAYS UNTIL THE HATCHLINGS ARE LARGE ENOUGH TO TRANSFER TO TANKS FILLED WITH SPRING WATER. WHEN THEY'RE LARGE ENOUGH TO SURVIVE IN THE WILD, BIOLOGISTS WILL  RETURN THE FINGERLINGS TO THEIR NATIVE HABITAT TO GROW INTO WILY PREY FOR ADVENTUROUS FISHERMEN.
CUTTHROAT TROUT IS A PHENOMENAL SPORT FISH. PEOPLE LOVE TO FISH FOR THEM AND IT'S, YOU KNOW, IT'S ONE OF THE TRUE SPORT FISH AROUND, YOU KNOW, ALONG WITH RAINBOW TROUT, BROWN TROUT. SO ANGLERS ALL OVER THE PLACE, COME TO COLORADO FROM EVERYWHERE, JUST TO FISH FOR CUTTHROAT TROUT.IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SAN JUAN CUTTHROAT CONSERVATION PROJECT, VISIT THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE WEB SITE AT C P W DOT STATE DOT C O DOT U S. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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