Santa Fe National Forest                                                       New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Contact: Lawrence Lujan, (505) 438-5321                            Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
lmlujan@fs.fed.us                                                                  Public contact: (505) 476-8000
                                                                                              dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 25, 2010:

NATIVE CUTTHROAT TROUT REMOVED FROM SOUTH FORK FIRE AREA

ABIQUIU -- More than 270 native Rio Grande cutthroat trout were removed from Polvadera Creek on Tuesday to protect the population from possible eradication by the 16,257-acre South Fork Fire burning approximately 20 miles west of Espanola.

Crews with the Department of Game and Fish and the Santa Fe National Forest used electroshocking equipment to stun the fish so they could be transported to Seven Springs Hatchery near Fenton Lake. The 5- to 10-inch trout will remain at the hatchery until they can be returned to Polvadera Creek, or biologists find another suitable stream for them.

About 1,000 adult cutthroats live in a five-mile section of Polvadera Creek, according to estimates by fisheries biologists Chantel Cook of the Santa Fe National Forest and Kirk Patten of the Department of Game and Fish. The stream is considered a "core" population of pure-strain native Rio Grande cutthroats, important to the species and recovery efforts because of their genetic diversity.

Sixty of the trout removed from the stream Tuesday were tested to ensure they were free of whirling disease, bacterial kidney disease and other viruses and bacteria -- standard procedure when trout are moved from one location to another, Patten said.

The 15-day-old, lightning-caused South Fork Fire was considered 45 percent contained Friday morning. Although the Fish in the creek are not threatened by the fire at this time, they may be affected by ash flow after the fire.

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