National Park Service (NPS) killed a record 366,000 cutthroat-gobbling, nonnative lake trout in Yellowstone Lake this year. Part of the park’s desperate effort to restore tanking native cutthroat populations, the program has dispatched about 1.5 million lakers in the last five years.
Now they’ve found a new way to kill off the next generation of lakers: drop their parents’ carcasses on top of them. NPS has identified about a dozen lake trout spawning sites and testing has shown that smothering the redds with the dead kills off all the eggs in about two weeks. After little payoff from methods like suction dredging and rotenone NPS says it’s thrilled about the possibilities.
“We have that material [fish carcasses] out there already. It’s not introducing anything foreign. So it has all kinds of attractive attributes,” says Yellowstone fisheries supervisor Todd Koel. Adding, “The mechanism we don’t know exactly, but all of that stuff that causes decay—bacteria and fungus along with no oxygen.”
With the laker population declining, native Yellowstone cutthroat are gaining ground in this war of attrition. Important tributaries like Clear and Little Thumb creeks are seeing an uptick in spawners and the remote Thorofare region is hosting more and bigger cutties than seen in recent years.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.