WEST GLACIER, Mont. [September 27, 2022] – Glacier National Park is initiating public outreach for an environmental assessment (EA) on a proposal to remove non-native rainbow trout from Gunsight Lake and establish safe populations of West Slope cutthroat trout and bull trout.
The native westslope cutthroat trout (a state-listed species of concern) in the St. River drainage. Mary on the east side of Glacier National Park is at risk of hybridization with non-native fish.
The drainage of the river St. Mary also supports bull trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and is the only drainage in the United States where bull trout are found east of the continental divide.
Historically, Gunsight Lake had no fish, but in 1916 and 1920-1936 it was stocked with non-native fish, including rainbow trout, which can migrate downstream and hybridize with native West Slope cutthroat trout. The lake is well positioned to provide a safe habitat for native fish due to downstream cascades that block the upstream migration of non-native fish.
Glacier National Park proposes to remove non-native rainbow trout from Gunsight Lake using a fish toxicant. Following the removal of the rainbow trout, the genetically pure West Slope bull trout and cutthroat trout would be moved to Gunsight Lake.
In 2019, Glacier National Park in partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Glacier National Park Conservancy undertook a similar project on the Camas Creek drainage, successfully eliminating trout non-native Yellowstone cutthroat from Camas and Evangeline Lakes and translocation of native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout to both lakes.
The proposed action is only an initial proposal; no decision to implement any action can be made until the NEPA process has been completed, including consideration of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action. Public outreach is underway to identify issues, concerns, and other alternatives to evaluate in the EA. There will be another opportunity for public comment when the EA is complete.
More information about the proposed project can be found on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Comments may be posted on the PEPC site or mailed to the Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Gunsight Lake EA, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936.