The Latest: Kill invasive lake trout to save native bull trout?

State and tribes disagree.


Montana's Flathead Lake is supposed to be co-managed by the state wildlife agency and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Fisheries Program. The collaboration has proven rocky, though. In June 2013, the tribes drafted a new co-management plan to use trapnets and gillnets to remove up to 75 percent of the invasive lake trout, allowing cutthroat trout and the threatened bull trout, the lake's top native predator, to recover. But Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks publicly objected, saying bull trout had already recovered ("The Flathead fish fiasco," HCN, 2/3/14).

This spring, after extensive environmental review, the tribes started netting. They hope to harvest 90,000 to 100,000 lake trout through a combination of gillnetting, fishing contests and recreational fishing. As of late May, they'd caught about 24,000. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring it and fully supports the approach so far. Meanwhile, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks maintains that bull trout are doing just fine.

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