Yellowstone is taking another step forward next week in efforts to restore native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in park waters.
Elk Creek and its tributaries including Lost and Yancey creeks are located near Tower Junction in the Yellowstone River drainage.
Decades ago, the streams were stocked with non-native brook trout. Their presence has contributed to a decline in native cutthroat trout in park lakes, rivers and streams. Brook trout compete with cutthroat trout and often completely displace them and other native fish species.
Starting Monday, Sept. 23, biologists will introduce a fish toxin into the streams to remove the non-native brook trout as part of Yellowstone’s Native Fish Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, which was approved in May 2011. The project will not impact the nearby Yellowstone River.
While the chemical Rotenone will be introduced in small quantities, visitors are advised not to swim in or drink from the streams from Monday through September 30. Warning signs will be posted at all treated areas.
This year’s treatment is the second in a series that is expected to continue over the next one to two years. Treatments will be conducted until brook trout have been completely removed from the streams. The park will then reintroduce genetically pure native Yellowstone cutthroat trout to the streams. The long term plan is not only to support native species restoration, but also for these streams to provide a brood stock population of cutthroat for future restoration efforts.