Zombie Fish? Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists embark on search for long-lost yellowfin cutthroat trout | SkyHiNews.com

Zombie Fish? Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists embark on search for long-lost yellowfin cutthroat trout

One of seven specimens of Yellowfin cutthroat trout collected by David S. Jordan and Barton W. Evermann from Twin Lakes near Leadville in 1889 and preserved at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife/Courtesy Image

Can fish come back from the dead? Scientists with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are on a quest to find a species thought to be extinct.

In the past decade, Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists and researchers have confirmed the existence of native greenback cutthroat trout long after they were believed to be extinct. They also discovered the unique San Juan River cutthroat trout after they, too, were thought to be extinct.

So why couldn’t the legendary yellowfin cutthroat, a giant among cutthroat last seen in Colorado waters in Twin Lakes near Leadville at the turn of the 20th century, still be hiding somewhere on the Colorado landscape?

Alex Townsend, Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, and Paul Foutz, Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Region senior aquatic biologist, are on a quest to find out. Given hope by the other recent cutthroat revelations, Foutz, Townsend and retired aquatic biologist Greg Policky will spend the next few summers surveying hundreds of wetlands, streams and ponds in the upper Arkansas River basin searching for the yellowfin.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to explore these uncharted waters in search of the yellowfin,” Policky said. “I dedicated my career to learning everything possible about these fish and I’m honored to be part of the (Parks and Wildlife) team conducting this search.”

Foutz said the team will report its findings as the project progresses and eventually concludes.

“I know how exciting it was to discover that Greenback cutthroat trout still existed in our waters,” Foutz said. “Our world is diminished anytime a species goes extinct. Searching for the yellowfin is the fulfillment of (Parks and Wildlife’s) basic mission of perpetuating the wildlife resources of the state. Based on our recent discoveries of hidden greenback and San Luis cutthroats, we’d be remiss if we didn’t search for the yellowfin.”

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