Colorado River cutthroat
What Are Western Native Trout?
Trout is the common name for a number of freshwater fish species in the salmon family. Trout have no spines on the fins, and all of them have a small adipose fin along the back, near the tail. Trout prefer cold, clean, and flowing water, and are important as an "indicator species" of a watershed. When a watershed is in trouble, the trout are the first to die.
There are 15 native trout species. Species like the greenback cutthroat, the gila trout and the westslope cutthroat thrived in Western watersheds until their habitats were altered because of roads, dams, agriculture, and logging. Human introduction of non-native trout species, such as rainbow, brown and brook, put further pressure on native trout by out-competing them for food, and by eating native fry. Conservation of Western native trout and their habitats is critical in maintaining their cultural, scientific and recreational value.
All native trout species populations are of concern. Four native trout species have been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Six species are listed as threatened, and one species is listed as endangered. Some species are extinct in certain areas but not in others. For example, no bull trout has been caught in California since the 1970s.