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Colorado River cutthroat rebound

Ferron — 2009 has been a good year for Colorado River cutthroat trout in southeastern Utah.

Colorado River cutthroat trout
A Division biologist collects eggs from a Colorado River cutthroat trout at Duck Fork Reservoir.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Photo

In June, Division of Wildlife Resources biologists collected about 64,000 eggs from female Colorado River cutthroat trout in Duck Fork Reservoir. Then they used milt from male cutthroats to fertilize the eggs on site before taking the eggs to the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery. Hatchery workers used the fertilized eggs to raise about 30,000 three-inch-sized fish.

This October, hatchery workers put 10,000 of those finger-sized cutthroats back into Duck Fork Reservoir. Another 10,000 were placed in the White River. (The White River is where the cutthroats that started this whole process came from.)

The remaining fish will be stocked into Millsite Reservoir above the town of Ferron.

Biologists expect native cutthroat trout to thrive in Duck Fork Reservoir for years to come. These trout will provide biologists with hundreds of thousands of eggs they can use to expand the range of Colorado River cutthroat trout throughout southeastern Utah.

The restoration is providing anglers with some unique and exciting fishing. It's also safeguarding the species.

History

Colorado River cutthroat trout are the only trout species that are native to the Colorado River Basin. DWR biologists have been working for years to preserve this native species and prevent its potential listing as threatened or endangered.

In 2000, DNA testing verified that the White River near Soldier Summit contained a population of pure-strain Colorado River cutthroat trout. DWR biologists were excited about the find.

After confirming the fish were pure-strain Colorado River cutthroats, the next step was to find a lake where they could spawn without interference from other trout. The biologists selected Duck Fork Reservoir above the town of Ferron as the best lake for the cutthroats.

The next step was to remove all of the trout species in the reservoir. Then, in 2003, biologists transplanted 850 pure-strain Colorado River cutthroats from the White River into the reservoir. A second transplant followed in 2004.

For more information about Colorado River cutthroat trout in southeastern Utah, call the DWR's Southeastern Region office at (435) 613-3700.

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