Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) will conduct a public informational meeting on the Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project on Thursday, May 27, 7-9 p.m. at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Office on North Meridian Road in Kalispell. The purpose of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project is to conserve native westslope cutthroat trout in the South Fork of the Flathead River, which is the major stronghold for westslope cutthroat trout in Montana. The public meeting begins at 7 p.m. with an informational presentation followed by time for questions and discussion. Biologists will summarize the successful 2009 treatments of Margaret and Clayton lakes and the post-treatment monitoring and restocking that have occurred to date.
Plans will also be discussed for the fall 2010 treatment of Wildcat Lake, which was historically stocked with nonnative rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Removal of these fish is necessary to eliminate the hybridization risk that they pose to the remaining populations of westslope cutthroat trout in the South Fork Flathead drainage. During the lake treatment, trail access to Wildcat Lake will be closed for public safety; however, Montana Fish Wildlife, and Parks has proposed lifting the harvest limits on Wildcat Lake prior to treatment in order to allow the public an increased opportunity for harvest. The FWP Commission will make a final decision on this proposal this month.
Since this project was implemented in 2007, annual stocking (genetic swamping) has resumed in several high mountain lakes as an alternative method for replacing nonnative trout with westslope cutthroat trout. Biologists will continue to monitor the genetic status of these lake populations to assess the effectiveness of this technique.
For more information on these projects please contact Matt Boyer at (406) 751-4556 or by e-mail. Additional information can also be found on the project website: http://fwp.mt.gov/regions/r1/wctproject/default.html