Hatchery Hack? Montana Fish Species Found Where it Shouldn’t Be
Nobody is sounding the alarm for an invasive species. In fact, at one time, this was one of its homes.
But, that was not the plan this time around. And like way back in the day, it is unlikely that they are going to establish a population.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tell us that they have confirmed finding Arctic grayling in Warm Springs Creek near Anaconda this month. Anglers reported catching two in the area. Although native to Montana, Arctic grayling are not native to Warm Springs Creek.
As a follow-up to the reports, FWP staff surveyed the area of the creek where anglers caught them, and found two more, suggesting that there are likely more, but not a high density of them.
FWP says that the grayling likely escaped into the creek from the nearby Washoe Park Fish Hatchery in Anaconda, where they are raised in an isolation facility as part of the grayling recovery program. They are also kept in the display tank in the visitors center. A study on how the escape occurred will be conducted and corrected prior to additional grayling being brought into the facility.
With an unusually large fin on its back, Arctic grayling display a graceful, almost tropical fish-like appearance. They are a species of freshwater fish in the salmon family, and are widespread throughout the Arctic and Pacific drainages in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, as well as the upper Missouri River drainage in Montana.
Grayling feed primarily on insects, so they are not a significant threat as a predator to other fish and do not mate with other fish in Warm Springs Creek. And, There is some history with the Warm Springs Creek this habitat.
Back in the 1930s through 1950s, Montana FWP did stock Arctic grayling in Warm Springs Creek, as well as mountain lakes in the area, Flint Creek and Georgetown Lake. As the fish did not establish a population then, it is unlikely it would happen today.
Still, good for those Montana anglers who reported catching them.
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