Invasion of the Yellowstone trout snatchers

January 24th, 2013 Yellow Stone Safari

Currently, there is a battle raging in the waters of Yellowstone, fish versus fish.  One has to go.  However, it is not that simple.


In the article, “Lake Trout Are Bad News For Lake Yellowstone”, Cathy Newman of National Geographic writes, “It’s a case of trout versus trout, and in the face-off between native Yellowstone cutthroats (Oncorhynchus clarkia bouvieri) and the intruders on the scene, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), the judgment handed down is a no-brainer.  The lake trout must go.”


A new participant in an area’s ecosystem can cause serious damage.  The lake trout is tampering with the lake’s fragile balance.  Cutthroats, for example, are a very important food source for grizzly bears.  They depend on these fish to spawn in certain creeks.  The bears then snatch them.  With other food sources in short supply, such as whitebark pine seeds), the disappearance of another food source for grizzly bears is absolutely disastrous.  That is how an ecosystem works.  If one animal is threatened, all animals are threatened.


Lake trout are not only stronger than cutthroats are, they also eat them.  Cutthroats are beautiful creatures and an important part of the Yellowstone ecosystem.  They have faced threats before.  The world, it seems, is out to get the cutthroats!


Newman continues, “Once the alien species was discovered, the Park Service was quick to respond.  It started netting the intruders and in the past ten years has hired commercial fisherman to accelerate the process with large deepwater entrapment nets.” It has been a long battle to remove the lake trout and over the past decade.  Thus far, the park has removed around a million lake trout.  That is an enormous number!


Where did the lake trout come from?  Well – the park is not 100% sure, but some speculate that anglers introduced the fish in order to diversify.  It is a serious crime to mess with nature’s plan to feed her children.  It is a crime against you, myself, and the world.


Still, the park has much work to do.  It is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Lake trout are somehow sneaking into the waters and replacing the cutthroats or, in other words, it is an invasion of the trout snatchers.  If we do not take greater action, the situation may very well be catastrophic.


For more information about the situation, you can read Newman’s article here.

Susi & Ken

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