Yellowstone cutthroat trout are beginning to breed in greater numbers and seem to be back on the scene. It’s been over 24 months since the efforts began in earnest and today the program is a success.
“The goal was to crash the lake-trout population to a point where they are no longer adversely affecting Yellowstone cutthroat trout,” said YNP Center for Resources Chief Dave Hallac. “We have evidence now that our suppression program is sufficient to cause the population to decline.”
Gill netting has led to a depression in lake trout numbers. The whole procedure was implemented in order to suppress the lake trout so that they wouldn’t have a harmful effect on the cutthroat trout.
The measures that were taken have proven to be quite effective. Just last year the lake trout were becoming a rare catch thus showing the fact that they were decreasing in quantity.
This was a good sign and a positive reminder that things were improving. There were some voices of dissent regarding the gill nets. It was said that they also caught cutthroat trout. But these rumors have been allayed.
Less than five cutthroat trout are being bagged per 100 lake trout. The major reason for the disagreements has been the costly nature of the program. At least $2 million of the $3 million kept for the park budget on species invasion control has been utilized for this program.
The budget however is made possible via donations and funds from a variety of sources including the park fishing license fees and the park foundation. It is hoped that the program would remain extant for at least a decade.
By the end of the ten years, new methods may become popular which cost less in their implementation. However, one thing is for sure. Lake trout cannot be done away with completely. That was next to impossible.
The problem is lake trout either consume cutthroat trout or eat up all their food supply. And cutthroat trout are scarce since they are also preyed upon by ospreys, eagles and bears.