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Yellowstone creel limit for rainbow may go up

Associated Press

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – Park officials are proposing that anglers be allowed to catch and keep more non-native fish from some of Yellowstone’s rivers and streams in an effort to reduce interbreeding with rare cutthroat trout.

Biologists say interbreeding is becoming an increasing problem in the park, and making the pure cutthroat even more rare.

Rainbow trout have been found in Slough Creek, a renowned Yellowstone cutthroat fishery in the park’s northern reaches, said Todd Koel, the top fisheries biologist in the park.

Koel said officials recently confirmed that what was thought to be a pure-strain population of westslope cutthroats in the North Fork of the park’s Fan Creek has been interbreeding with rainbow trout.

“We’ve now found they are hybridized,” he said. “Folks need to know these kinds of things are going on. We need to do what we can to save what we have left.”

The National Park Service is proposing to boost the creel limit in most park streams where it’s legal to keep fish.

The daily limit would increase from two non-native fish, such as brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout, to five.

On streams where there are few pure cutthroats, or none at all, no harvesting of fish would be allowed.

Those streams include the Madison, the Firehole and the lower Gibbon rivers.

They will be managed to provide a sport fishery for the non-native species.

The Park Service is taking comment on the proposed rules through Aug. 31. If adopted, they would go into effect in 2006.

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