Working together to Restore
Working together to restore a native Westslope Cutthroat Trout population in Banff National Park
Trout Unlimited Canada has teamed up with Parks Canada and the University of Calgary to restore a population of native westslope cutthroat trout in the Hidden Lake and Corral Creek drainages near the Lake Louise Ski Area in Banff National Park. This multi-year project involves partnerships, research along with volunteer signage and education components.
The Alberta population of westslope cutthroat trout, which are listed as a Threatened species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), currently occupies approximately 10% of its historical range. A recovery strategy has been drafted by a team of experts that addresses issues facing the species and provides recommendations and steps that could be used to recover the species. This plan is specific to only pure populations within historic native range. Westslope cutthroat trout have faced multiple threats including habitat loss and degradation, competition and hybridization with non-native, introduced species and over-harvest. Only limited populations of pure westslope cutthroat trout remain within their historic range in the province, most often to reaches of rivers above natural barriers such as waterfalls. Introgression with introduced rainbow trout and competition for food and habitat with brook trout has also limited westslope cutthroat trout range and numbers.
Brook trout, native to eastern North America, were introduced in water bodies throughout western Canada in the early1900's in an attempt to bolster angling opportunities. Brook trout mature at a younger age and smaller size and do not live as long or grow as big as native westlope cutthroat or bull trout. Brook Trout were likely introduced into Hidden Lake and upper Corral Creek sometime in the 1960's and have since eliminated native westslope cutthroat trout from a reach above an impassable waterfall on Corral Creek.
Since the introduction of brook trout into this watershed, the natural balance between trout species has been altered. Trout Unlimited Canada, Parks Canada and the University of Calgary have come together to restore the natural balance in this system.
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