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CPW releases thousands of genetically unique cutthroat trout on Pikes Peak

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists released hundreds of fish into the wild on Pikes Peak.

Tuesday, trucks carrying genetically unique Hayden Creek cutthroat trout made their way up Pikes Peak. From there, CPW aquatic biologists and staff packed up the fish and hiked through rain and snow to stock North French Creek.

According to CPW, 3,000 fish were released into North French Creek, a fishless stream at 12,000 feet on Pikes Peak.

The special fish are the offspring of fish rescued from Hayden Creek during the Hayden Pass wildfire in the Sangre De Cristos. CPW began looking for remote, fishless, high-altitude creeks to serve as new homes for the trout after the fire filled the South Prong of Hayden Creek with ash and debris, making it uninhabitable for the fish.

"These fish are genetically unique. They share a gene that's only been found in one other population of fish, and those were fish that were collected from Twin Lakes in the 1800s," said CPW aquatic biologist Cory Noble. "These are Colorado river cutthroat trout, but they don't share this gene with any of the cutthroat trout in the Colorado River drainages."

Hayden cutthroat trout after released into wild, video courtesy of CPW

According to Noble, CPW hopes these unique fish now have a place to exist safely.

Now, CPW has stocked 20,000 Hayden Creek cutthroat trout into five creeks across Colorado. For more information click here.

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Shelby Filangi

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