Experts looking to restore Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout population

New Mexico

SEVEN SPRINGS, NM (KRQE) – The state fish is in need of some help. The New Mexico Department Game and Fish is trying to restore the population of the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout.  

The fish was almost put on the federal endangered species list back in 2014, but officials ultimately decided that wasn’t necessary. The population is still scarce because the Cutthroat Trout have to compete over resources with other fish, wildfires destroying their habitat, and other climate changes.  

Kirk Patten, the Chief of Fishery for New Mexico Game & Fish, said they are in a battle to help preserve the trout.

“Some cases we’ll use a fish toxicant, it’s also essentially a chemical where you can remove those nonnative species. Once the nonnative species are removed, you can put the Rio Grande Cutthroat back in,” Patten said.

He said they have about 30,000 to 40,000 trout at the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery near Fenton Lake State Park. Patten said they the trout will stay under their care for one to three years before being released into the wild.

 Still, Patten believes people should embrace the state’s fish.

“There are Rio Grande Cutthroat out there for the public to go and enjoy, they’re part of our Native ecosystem so there’s some great angling opportunities and it’s a beautiful fish,” said Patten.

There are six fish hatcheries across New Mexico. The Seven Springs Fish Hatchery is the only one in the state raising Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout.

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