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Invasive smallmouth bass caught north of Yellowstone

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PHOTO COURTESY OF USFWS / ERIC ENGBRETSON

Anglers required to kill and report smallmouth bass caught in the park

By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF

GARDINER ­– An angler caught a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19 on the Gardner River at the confluence with the Yellowstone River, according to a March 9 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks press release. A fisheries biologist with Yellowstone National Park yesterday said anglers who catch smallmouth bass in the park boundary are required to kill and report the invasive species starting Memorial Day weekend.

Smallmouth bass are not native to the area and an established population of the species could pose threats to native fish.

In the past seven years, anglers have only had two other incidents reported of finding smallmouth bass on the upper Yellowstone River, according to FWP.

“One of FWP’s primary management goals in this area is to protect native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which spawn in the tributaries and upper reaches of the Yellowstone River,” the FWP release said. “An established population of invasive smallmouth bass could occupy the same areas, preying on and displacing trout and other native fish”

Yesterday afternoon, Todd Koel, the parks’s lead fisheries biologist, made a statement requiring anglers to kill and report any smallmouth bass caught in Yellowstone National Park once the fishing season begins Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day this year is on May 30.

Read Koel’s full statement below.

“Smallmouth bass are an invasive predatory species that will threaten our wild and native trout populations if they become established in the upper Yellowstone River. Since anglers are highly effective at suppressing invasive fish in waters where they coexist with native species such as cutthroat trout, they will be required to kill and report any smallmouth bass caught in Yellowstone National Park when the fishing season opens Memorial Day weekend. Additionally, Yellowstone National Park and USGS biologists will be sampling the Gardner and Yellowstone rivers, upstream of where the invasive smallmouth bass was caught. Over the next few weeks, biologists will monitor these rivers closely to gauge the possible extent of the invasion. Our goal is to protect native fish populations and natural ecosystems. We will do everything in our power to prevent the establishment of smallmouth bass in the park and prevent them from preying on and displacing trout and other native fish.”

Visit nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/aquatic-invasive-species.htm to learn more about preventing the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in Yellowstone.

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