Lake Trout Removal in Yellowstone Park
In efforts to bolster Yellowstone Lake’s native cutthroat trout population, wildlife crews have removed more than 300,000 lake trout, an invasive species that feeds on the smaller cutthroats. Lake trout removal programs began in 1994, and since then more than 1.1 million have been hauled out of the lake.
The National Park Service contracts netters to catch the invasive lake trout. These hired hands spent the past May through October focusing on the West Thumb, Breeze Channel and Dot and Frank Island areas of Yellowstone Lake.
Happy with the large numbers of lake trout removed this year, Yellowstone officials plan to keep netting levels where they currently are, at least for the near future.
“I think we’re about as ramped as we can get right now,” Yellowstone spokesman Dan Hottle told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “As far as I know, we don’t have any plans to bring on any additional boats.”
The NPS has joined forces with Montana State University and researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, groups that have set levels for lake trout removal and monitor the trouts’ movement with radio tagging efforts. These tactics help them to locate areas where the fish gather and spawn. The netters then focus on these highly concentrated areas.
“We had a banner year for a couple of different reasons,” Hottle said. “Number one is we’re using the tracking telemetry to find out where the fish were spawning and where they’re congregating.”