- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah wildlife officials began reintroducing native cutthroat trout into a Salt Lake City-area creek this week with the hope of restoring the population as it was when Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

Biologists with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources placed about 3,000 cutthroat trout in Mill Creek on Wednesday as part of a larger project to restore the species around the state.

The silver fish, 2 to 3 inches long, were bred from cutthroat in nearby reservoirs and raised at a state hatchery in Kamas.

Before introducing the cutthroat, biologists treated the creek with a naturally occurring poison in order to kill off existing fish.

The nonnative brown and rainbow trout in the creek were mixing with cutthroat and creating hybrid fish.

Mike Slater, a state aquatic biologist, said the cutthroat population needs to be pure in order to keep the fish from being listed by the federal government as an endangered species. That’s something several organizations have been pushing for in recent years.

Federal officials won’t count a hybrid fish as part of a population, so in order to keep cutthroat off the Endangered Species list, state biologists must keep the fish population exclusively cutthroat.

Volunteers from the Stonefly Society, a Salt Lake County chapter of the conservation group Trout Unlimited, have been assisting the state with cleaning out the dead nonnative fish.

Stonefly Society president Layne Read said the project and restoration of the stream is important for the group.

“As an angler, I love the fact there is one specific stream I can get to in a reasonable time and experience fishing for a native species with my grandchildren,” Stonefly Society president Layne Read said.

The cutthroat introduced this week were added in the upper areas of the creek, according to The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1wgBLOE).

Biologists hope to add more cutthroat to the creek’s middle and lower sections in the coming years.

Eventually, state officials hope to restore other native fish species to the creek, such as sculpin, dace and mountain sucker.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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