Officials put in extra effort to protect New Mexico trout | KOB 4
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Officials put in extra effort to protect New Mexico trout

Ryan Laughlin
October 21, 2019 05:45 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—State officials have been putting in extra effort to protect a native species of fish.

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At Fenton Lake, officials stock the body of water with the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which Chief of Fisheries Kirk Patten said is a continuous task.

"Some places like this, if we weren't consistently stocking it, the fishing would go down rather quickly,” Patten said.

The trout, known for its red marks under its mouth, have been vulnerable.

"We've had some massive wildfires in the past several years the past decade,” Patten said. “You can see these hillsides here— that's probably, I think that was 18-19 years ago when that part of the watershed burned."

Wildfires and nonnative rainbow out-competing cutthroats have made it difficult to get populations up.

"We still have some work to do. In 2006, we estimated there, range-wide between Colorado and New Mexico, we estimated there were about 120,000 populations of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. Now, we're up to close to 130," Patten said

Populations refer to waters that sustain a particular fish. According to Patten, in 2006 there were 120,000 populations between Colorado and New Mexico. Today, there’s around 130,000. However, Patten said they’re aiming to have 150,000 populations to sustain New Mexico’s state fish.

Seven Springs Fisheries have been exclusively dedicated to hatching cutthroats and introducing 300,000-500,000 fish back into New Mexico waters.

Sustainable waters for cutthroats have increased, but officials are still looking to give New Mexico’s state fish a wider range.

“You could have one small little creek and that counts as a population. Ideally, we'd like a larger interconnected population with multiple tributaries that's more resilient to things like wildfires, drought, climate change— that sort of thing,” Patten said.

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Ryan Laughlin

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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