These Wildlife Rescuers Step Up When Fires And Droughts Turn Water Fatal For Fish

Listen Now
Photo: Hayden Creek Trout 4 | South Prong Hayden Creek Trout - Courtesy
A rare cutthroat trout after it was rescued from the South Prong of Hayden Creek, July 20, 2016. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff along with U.S. Forest Service volunteers went behind fire lines to save nearly 200 of the unique fish.

When it comes to blazing hot wildfires, even the water isn't safe. That's especially true for fish, which can die when water gets boiling hot or so clogged with debris it's impossible to breathe. Many endangered cutthroat greenback trouts almost faced that end when the stretch of Hayden Creek they call home was caught in the 2016 Hayden Pass Fire.

That's where the fisheries department of Colorado Park and Wildlife comes in. Chief Doug Krieger tells Colorado Matters how his team rescues imperiled fish such as the cutthroats in Hayden Creek. That day, about 30 biologists showed up in full firefighter garb to rescue almost 200 of the native Colorado fish. Increasingly, droughts draining water levels are also a threat to endangered aquatic species.