On January 13, the American Fisheries Society presented the Aquatics Research Section of Colorado Parks and Wildlife with the prestigious Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project award for 2015. The award was given to CPW for their efforts in restoring rainbow trout populations throughout the state- specifically for a research project completed in 2014. In this project, CPW scientists and researchers determined the best ways to breed and maintain stocks of whirling disease resistant rainbow trout in hatcheries and in wild populations in Colorado.
For more than 20 years, since the early 1990s when whirling disease was discovered in Colorado, CPW aquatic scientists have been studying the disease and developing strains of rainbow trout that are resistant.
The research was conducted in the CPW Fort Collins hatchery by aquatic research scientist Eric Fetherman, and aquatic wildlife research chief George Schisler. Also contributing significantly to the work was Brad Neuschwanger, research hatchery manger, and Tracy Davis and Chris Praamsma, research hatchery technicians.
"This award provides national recognition for the work the research staff has done on whirling disease issues," said Doug Krieger, acting aquatics section manager. "We lead the nation in whirling disease research, and states throughout the West are interested in what we're doing."
Grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped fund the research with money collected through excise taxes on fishing and boating gear and fuel. In 2015, Colorado's share of the grant funds totaled $8.3 million.
Although the work over the past 20 years has been difficult, the work has paid off and Colorado is home to some of the leading research regarding Whirling disease. Hatcheries have been restored and wild populations of rainbow trout are thriving.