Yellowstone Officials Attempt Mass Killing of Lake Trout

Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s most celebrated natural areas, where breathtaking scenery abounds and wild animals roam the trails at will. Researchers at the United States Geological Survey, however, recently decided that one species of fish — the lake trout — found in Yellowstone must be sacrificed in order to preserve its native cousin, the cutthroat trout. The cutthroat is a “keystone” species in the Yellowstone ecosystem and is a vital food source for grizzly bears, egrets, eagles, martens and other animals.

Kirk Johnson of the New York Times describes the conflict between lake trout and cutthroats:

“Lake trout, which park officials believe were introduced by fishermen a few decades ago, gobble up the cutthroats (named for the slash of red under their jaws). And lake trout, unlike the cuts, as they are called, hide in the deep and do not venture into streams and tributaries to spawn, where bears and other animals can catch and eat them.”

In an attempt to find where the Yellowstone lake trout spawn, researchers implanted tiny radio transmitters into several of the fish. Once they locate the lake trout eggs, it will be much easier to eradicate the species, possibly with “electricity or suction.”

The attempted elimination of lake trout comes after several failed efforts to isolate and preserve cutthroat trout from predatory non-native fish species. Even the experts are unsure about how effective the eradication will be, or if there will be any unforeseen consequences of removing lake trout from the ecosystem.

“We may think we know what we’re doing, but the outcomes are going to be unpredictable no matter what,” said Anders Halverson, an aquatic ecologist.

Yellowstone is encouraging anglers to catch and eat as many lake trout as they want in order to help with the eradication effort. Cutthroats are strictly catch-and-release only. Even with unlimited fishing, much of the trout will surely go to waste as the fish are killed in the water. Selling trout fillets in the remote area would be logistically difficult.

Tracking buoys that read the implants embedded in the trout will be deployed later this week — and then the massacre will begin.

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Don Saunders
Don Saunders5 years ago

fishermen should know better than to introduce nonindigonous species into a water body anywhere

Cynthia S.
Tia Simon6 years ago

Lake trout are an introduced species that are destroying not just Cutthroat trout, but the entire food chain linked to the Cutthroat. When I worked in Yellowstone I saw the damage first hand. It is fine to rid one of the last vestiges of wild biodiversity in a region of an introduced species so that we can maintain that unique, wild ecosystem - for research, science, education, recreation, cultural preservation, and much more. Fine to process the Lake trout as food for area animals in need, such as a wolf sanctuary, and for people in need too.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

good idea. let the lake trout eat everything. then the lake trout die out. then we put fish back in because there are no fish for bears,birds and wolves to eat.

pete M.
peter m6 years ago

The lake trout will eventually stop breeding when their food supply dwindles.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

Tammy D. people here don't care about that. Like I said, of coyotes were dumped on the Galapagos islands and were gobbling up everything, and left to grow to population of 800. people would want all 800 of them spayed and neuterd, and wait for all 800 of them to die.or wait till 200 are left, then ship them off to Florida or to Patagonia. something stupid.
the'll make petition to "save the Galapagos coyote" and brand everyone a savage who dare go down there to shoot 793 of them to "save the native animals".

because "only humans do bad damage, animals are innocent, they are just eating to live"
People here want coyotes to fix the New Zealand rabbit problem.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

It makes sense to remove the invasive species. they can always re-introduce them if getting rid of them causes a problem. the cutthroat however probably can't be reintroduced.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago

thanks for the information

Helen Camren
Past Member 6 years ago

Yep, if it works break it!

Then spend a lot of money trying to fix it.

Stop interfering with nature.

Aurelia G.
Aurelia G6 years ago

I agree with the fact the Lake Trout are causing the Cutthroat Trout to disappear and something needs to be done to rectify the situation, BUT, I also feel, as others have indicated, the Lake Trout should be USED as FOOD, for people who have very little, and would greatly benefit from receiving them.

Ida J.
Ida J6 years ago

thanks for the article