Endangered Gila trout rescued from Black Fire

SILVER CITY, NM — Gila trout (Oncorhynchus gilae gilae) is endemic to mountain streams in the Gila, San Francisco, Agua Fria, and Verde river drainages in New Mexico and Arizona. Gila trout was originally recognized as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1967). Federal-designated status of the fish as endangered was continued under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Gila trout was reclassified, or down listed, from endangered to threatened in 2006 (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006).

The distribution of Gila trout has fluctuated since 1975 when only five populations of the species were known in Main Diamond Creek, South Diamond Creek, Whiskey Creek, and Spruce Creek. Range expansions resulted from establishing new populations through stocking by resource management agencies. Range fluctuations occurred from local extirpations (local extinction) caused by a high-severity forest fire, stream drying due to drought, and hybridization with rainbow trout.

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