The Rarest Trout in North America Makes a Comeback

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service –

On Sept. 18, 2019, 30 federally threatened Paiute cutthroat trout were reintroduced  into their historic home in Alpine County, California by state and federal biologists.

This date marks the first time that this trout has occupied its original home waters in nearly a century.

Chad Mellison, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was one of the biologists who helped make it happen.

“It was an emotional day. Very rarely do we (biologists) get to see a listed species that we’ve worked on for our entire career, especially with so many challenges, be reintroduced into almost all of their historic native range. This practically never happens,” Mellison said of reintroducing the trout.

“I’ve lived and breathed this for 18 years, so it’s definitely something to be proud of.”Mellison began his career with the Service in 2001 and had been on the job for one week before being assigned to work on Paiute cutthroat trout recovery. This would be the beginning of a tumultuous and rewarding journey for Mellison and recovery of the Paiute cutthroat trout.

Small and opalescent, the Paiute cutthroat effortlessly blends into the cobblestone floors of the streams they call home. The fish was first described in 1933 as a distinct subspecies of cutthroat trout by Professor John O. Snyder of Stanford University, due to their absence (or limited number) of body spots and vivid, purplish-hue.

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