Montana Outdoors

Oct 22, 2013 9:09 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Latest count: Strong numbers of bull trout in the Flathead

KALISPELL - The latest surveys by biologists show the number of endangered bull trout in the upper reaches of the Flathead Basin hitting a new milestone - with millions of eggs left by spawning fish this fall.

The trout, which are unique to Northwest rivers like the Flathead, have been the target of extensive efforts to protect them from extinction over the past several years.

The waterways above Flathead Lake are critical because of the trout's historic patterns of spawning above the lake into the North and Middle forks of the Flathead River.

Biologists have located just over 400 "redds" or "nests" where the adult bull trout have spawned over the past 15 years. But Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the latest surveys this fall have shown the number of spawning sites at 500 "redds."

Biologists say that's a 66% increase over the minimum numbers needed to maintain the bull trout population. That's also 57% above the averages set in the 1980s, and twice as high as in the 1990s when concerns grew over the possible extinction of the bull trout.

(Photo above showing bull trout redd, or "nest" on Granite Creek, Middle Fork of the Flathead- courtesy FWP)

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