One of Yellowstone National Park’s top conservation priorities is to decrease the number of non-native lake trout. In recent years, these predatory invaders have dramatically reduced the number of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. As of Aug. 16, more than 260,000 lake trout have been caught this year in Yellowstone Lake. This has a direct impact throughout the ecosystem, as cutthroat are an important food source for eagles, grizzlies, otters and other wildlife. Yellowstone Park Foundation’s funding of the Native Fish Conservation Program is enabling a significant effort to suppress lake trout through gillnetting on the lake. Below are images from the frontlines of the fight to save Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
Lake trout caught by the crew of the NPS Hammerhead. NPS PHOTO/NEAL HERBERT
A submerged view of cutthroat trout in shallow water. Biologists estimate 41 cutthroat trout are saved each year for every mature lake trout caught. PHOTO BY JAY FLEMING
Carrington Island Lake Trout eggs. To complement gillnetting efforts, biologists are applying electronic shock to kill lake trout eggs. PHOTO BY JAY FLEMING
Workers lay gillnets, which are pulled twice a week to count and examine lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake. Gilnetting has removed more than 1.9 million lake trout from Yellowstone Lake since 1994. PHOTO BY MATT LUDIN/YELLOWSTONE PARK FOUNDATION
A three-fold increase in Yellowstone juvenile fish show that current efforts are having an impact and cutthroat trout numbers in Yellowstone are on the rise. PHOTO BY JAY FLEMING