On July 20, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service volunteers went beyond the Hayden Pass Fire safe zone to rescue and transport the unique cutthroat trout from the lower prong of Hayden Creek.
The teams electroshocked the fish to rescue 194 fish from the lowest mile of a 3-mile stretch where the habitat had thrived. 2-Miles above the stretch was burned pretty bad, according to CPW.
When the Hayden Pass fire went through the area that contains these cutthroat trout populations, CPW aquatic biologists were worried ash and sediment from the aftermath of the fire would wash down into the stream, cutting off food supply and oxygen for the fish.
“We were able to take out as many as I hoped we would,” said Greg Policky, CPW aquatic biologist. “The worry was if we didn’t do anything, we’d lose this population and that’d be it. They’d be done.”
Of the 194,158 fish were placed in a tank that was driven to the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery in Almont, west of Buena Vista. The other 36 were placed in plastic bags and taken to a creek near Cañon City. The plan is to isolate the fish in the creek and preserve the species to keep them from extinction. CPW also clipped their adipose fins for the purpose of later identifying them among other cutthroats.
These fish share a unique genetic anomaly with a cutthroat trout found in the Smithsonian Museum said to have been taken from Twin Lakes near Leadville, in 1889. These greenbacks are not the same found in Bear Creek, but are likely related to one another.