Biologists Discover Colorado Trout Species Thought To Be Extinct

Colorado Parks and Wildlife just announced they’ve discovered a species of cutthroat trout previously thought to be extinct. They also said the species was threatened again this summer.

The fish in question is related to a museum specimen collected back in 1874 and housed in the Smithsonian. Now biologists know this unique species of Colorado River Cutthroat is alive and well in eight small populations around the San Juan River Basin in southwest Colorado.

John Alves, Senior Aquatic Biologist for Parks and Wildlife in the region, said it was an exciting discovery that this fish was not extinct and there were still some representatives of the species living in the landscape. 

He said the discovery was only made possible because of recent advances in genetic testing.  But cutthroat was put at risk this summer.

“Along comes drought this year and the fire,” Alves said, “and we had to rescue fish from two populations in the 416 Fire area north of Durango.”

He said their goal now is to raise those fish up in hatcheries and help them continue to flourish in their native habitat.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.