- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Scientists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are enlisting the help of anglers in an effort to restore a troubled trout’s population in Lake Superior.

The scientists hope that by asking anglers to scrape DNA off their catch, they can figure out if their efforts to save the wild steelhead trout have been helping or harming the depleted fish population. The new study will examine whether a non-reproducing relative, known as Kamloops, could be hurting wild reproduction.

Wild steelhead quickly adapted to Lake Superior after they were introduced in the 1880s, but their populations began to suffer by the 1950s. Rules were tightened multiple times in an effort to help the steelhead, but the fish continued to dwindle.

In the 1970s, the Department of Natural Resources began stocking Kamloops, a separate strain of steelhead.

“The original purpose of the Kamloops program was to provide a harvest while we rehabilitated the steelhead population,” said Nick Peterson, a migratory fish specialist for the Department of Natural Resources in Duluth who’s leading the new study.

More than 40 years later, Kamloops continue to be stocked and wild steelhead have failed to fully rebound, despite a regulation established in 1997 for all wild steelhead to be released.

Officials with the department will formally announce the new study Saturday at the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in White Bear Lake, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/22oM9WJ ) reported.

As anglers flock to the mouths of Lake Superior tributaries in the coming days or weeks, the nonprofit Minnesota Steelheader will lead the outreach effort by helping distribute free kits for anglers to collect scales of wild fish and send them to the department for DNA analysis.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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