FWP approves non-native trout suppression in Cooney Creek


September 5, 2019

SWAN VALLEY - In an effort to boost native westslope cutthroat and bull trout populations, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will remove non-native trout species in Cooney Creek, a tributary of the upper Swan River in northwest Montana.

 Following a public comment period, FWP is moving forward with the project to capture and remove all brook and rainbow trout in Cooney Creek’s core westslope cutthroat trout habitat. The project will be in collaboration with the University of Montana and MPG Ranch, a privately-owned conservation ranch. Funding for the project is primarily provided by MPG Ranch with labor assistance from FWP.

Freshwater fisheries are in decline throughout North America. In Montana, two species particularly at risk are westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. Competition and hybridization between nonnative trout has caused declines of native westslope and bull trout across their historic range. Hybridization is particularly concerning because it diminishes the genetic signature of a species, causing extirpation. Widespread hybridization between rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout has been documented in the Flathead River drainage, and in portions of the Swan River basin. FWP’s 2013-2018 Statewide Fisheries Management Plan recommends “isolation of westslope cutthroat trout populations if hybridization is a threat and habitat is sufficient to allow persistence” for the area encompassing Cooney Creek.


FWP published an environmental assessment of the proposed project in July and accepted public input for 30 days. FWP received 11 written comments by mail or email and one comment by phone. Of the comments received, nine supported the proposed action, two commented against the proposed action and one individual expressed concern over a variety of issues. Responses to comments are available online with the decision notice at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices.


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