Lahontan Cutthroat Trout swims back from extinction; population in the hundreds of thousands

Sierra Sun –

More than 150 years ago, the waters of Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake were dominated by a single apex predator.

Due to dams, overfishing, introduction of nonnative fishes, and degraded habitat, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout had disappeared from those native waters by the early 1940s.

Then in the 1970s, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, with their distinguishing red to orange slash mark at the throat, was identified by fish biologist Robert Behnke in a small, remote stream in the Pilot Peak area near the Nevada-Utah border.

“We don’t have any specific information about how they might of ended up in that really isolated small stream. The population in Pyramid Lake, before it disappeared, the state of Nevada had moved them everywhere into the waters in Northern Nevada, but none of those stockings persisted and so the genetics don’t show up in any other populations,” said Lisa Heki, project leader at the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex. “We’ve done extensive genetic analysis in comparison of all populations of LCT, and the Pilot Peak (fish) — through genetic analysis of museum mounts — are the only ones historically related to that original, large size LCT that was found in Tahoe and Pyramid.”

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