Since 1982 Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists have been monitoring the numbers of the different types of trout in the South Fork Snake River outside of Idaho Falls.This monitoring has tracked the effects non-native rainbow trout are having on native Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations. Rainbow trout can interbreed with cutthroats and produce fertile offspring. The resulting generations of hybrids become more and more like rainbows, and less like cutthroats.While a variety of efforts have yielded some success, 2009 counts showed a dramatic increase in the number of rainbows that were spawned in 2008, prompting the need for some serious action. Fish and Game hopes its South Fork Snake River Angler Incentive Program will increase the harvest of rainbow trout, reduce their numbers, and help to protect native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The goal of these management efforts is not to eradicate the non-native rainbow trout, but to reduce their numbers to what was seen on the South Fork in the 1980s and early 1990s. Monitoring in 2009 showed that, for the first time since 1982, rainbow trout outnumbered Yellowstone cutthroat in the South Fork Snake River.The major focus area is the stretch of river below Palisades Dam down to Heise.
In this case, 575 rainbow trout of varying sizes have had tiny wire “tags” implanted in their snouts. These tiny wires are etched with microscopic markings to indicate their value. No state dollars are being used for this program; only money from federal sources.The reward breakdown is: 300 of the tags are worth $50 each; 200 are worth $100; 50 are worth $200; 20 worth $500; and 5 are worth $1,000 each. The competitive aspect is that the tags are invisible to the eye and can’t be detected by a standard metal detector. In order to tell whether a fish is a winner it must be killed and brought into the Idaho Falls Fish and Game headquarters to be checked. To learn more, please call the regional office at 208-525-7290.
Article from Idaho Fish and Game.