Undoing the harm that previous programs have done
September 25, 2014: In an ongoing effort to rid Yellowstone streams of non-native fish, Yellowstone has purposefully begun poisoning its waterways.
Yellowstone’s Fishery Management History
Early park managers viewed fishes of the park as resources to be used by sport anglers and provide park visitors with fresh meals. Fish-eating wildlife, such as bears, ospreys, otters, and pelicans, were regarded as a nuisance, and many were destroyed as a result.
To supplement fishing and to counteract “destructive” consumption by wildlife, a fish stocking program was established in Yellowstone. Early park superintendents noted the vast fishless waters of the park and asked the U.S. Fish Commission to “see that all waters are stocked so that the pleasure seeker can enjoy fine fishing within a few rods of any hotel or camp” (Boutelle 1889).
The program stocked more than 310 million native and non-native fish in Yellowstone between 1881 and 1955. Approximately 48% of Yellowstone’s waters were once fishless, and the stocking of non-native fishes by park managers has had profound ecological consequences.
History of Yellowstone Fisheries Management: http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/fish_management_history.htm
2011 Yellowstone Native Fish Conservation Plan
In May of 2011, the Yellowstone Native Fish Conservation Plan was approved outlining a plan to undo the damage from stocking non-native fish. The solution? Over the next two to three years, specific streams will be poisoned until the non-native fish are gone. Then, Yellowstone will stock the waters with the original cutthroat trout. It is hoped that Yellowstone can create a brood stock population of the fish to be used in future restoration efforts.
In August 2014, non-native brown trout and rainbow trout were removed from Grayling Creek and its tributaries north of West Yellowstone in the Madison River drainage using fish toxin in the water.
Second on the schedule for poisoning are the brook trout in Elk Creek and its tributaries including Lost Creek and Yancey Creek. These waters are near Tower Junction in the northeast section of the park. The treatment will start in late September and should be concluded by October 7, 2014. The project will not effect nearby Yellowstone River.
While this treatment is in process, signs will be posted alerting visitors not to drink or swim in the water.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are also considering poisoning brook trout in a 12-mile stretch of Soda Butte Creek located outside Cooke City in an attempt to prevent the fish from entering the park’s waterways.
NPS Press Release: www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/12082.htm
Related Article: Yellowstone Lake Cutthroat Trout Threatened by Non-native Lake Trout