|Yellowstone National Park Native Fish Restoration Project - Status Report, February 23, 2013|
|On February 21st the Working Group that has been coordinating the efforts of the multiple NGO’s and agencies
engaged in the effort, met at Mammoth Hot Springs. This meeting reviewed the progress of netting suppression,
telemetry studies, population trends of both Yellowstone cutthroats and lake trout, fundraising status for both
short term suppression and longer term ova suppression, and directions for the upcoming season.
As Project Manager from Wyoming TU for the Yellowstone Lake work, I couldn’t be happier. Cooperation between
the diverse groups has never been so strong and the indicators for “success” have never been better.
Lake trout suppression on Yellowstone Lake is now seen as a two pronged effort. One can’t succeed without the
other. In the short term, gill netting has been expanded to reach a critical milestone of units of effort (basically the
length of nets in the water for a specified number of days) and a critical milestone of lake trout removal which will
lead to a population crash. This coming season should see even higher levels of gill netting, and subsequent lake
trout removal, as the contract netting company adds a third boat to the fight. Trap netting will continue to target the
larger, spawning age fish in shallow water. We may finally be at a level of lake trout removal that reverses the
course of population expansion. In the longer term, ova suppression is now seen as an important component of
total lake trout control rather than a separate research study.
The telemetry program, that we all have helped fund, is now starting to pay real dividends. The statistician that was
hired in November is really starting to pick apart the overwhelming amount of telemetry data. His conclusions are
just starting to guide the netting as depth and temperature preferences, as well as movement patterns of the lake
trout by season, are being understood. In addition, his analysis has pointed to several potential new spawning
beds around the lake. Meanwhile, the VPS (Vemco Positioning System) array system at Carrington Island has
pinpointed the exact location and extent of that spawning bed as well as the timing of its use by the lakers.
Experiments are also underway to utilize new technology to kill those lake trout eggs at Carrington. Electro-
shocking continues to be considered the best methodology as two outside contractors are being considered for
specific systems. In addition, the NPS employed vacuum technology on a limited basis at Carrington last fall.
All indicators of both lake trout and YCT populations are pointed in the right direction. We are a long way from
winning back this system; however, we are definitely going in the right direction after so many years of decline.
Every parameter from lake trout CPUE (catch per unit effort), to distribution netting of both species, to angler
surveys indicate positive trends.
We cannot let up, however. We all know that there is a long way to go, and we all know that the trend will reverse
back without constant diligence. Our fundraising is a critical part of that. The telemetry season of 2013 is so
important. Our hydro-acoustic tags that we all helped purchase have only limited battery life remaining. We must
take advantage of that battery life this year by deploying as many VPS arrays on potential spawning beds as
possible. That takes money. The NGO partners are currently trying to raise $118,000 to support this year’s work.
We currently have $43,000. If you personally or your chapter can dig even deeper, we can meet our goal. Consider
sending in whatever you can to “Save the Yellowstone Cutthroat” c/o WY TU, 250 1st St, Lander, WY 82520.
Submitted by Dave Sweet, firstname.lastname@example.org.