Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Species of Concern
The westslope cutthroat trout is the official Montana state fish and one of two native cutthroat trout types found in the state. The westslope is native to western Montana and is also found in the Missouri River drainage on the east side of the Continental Divide. Westslope cutthroats probably swam over the Divide during the last period of glaciers in Montana, about 10,000 years ago. As the glaciers moved south, they dammed up some of the major rivers in western Montana and created huge reservoirs that sometimes backed up all the way to the Divide, spilling water (and cutthroat trout) into rivers and streams on the East side of the Continental Divide. Montana was very different back then! (Source MFW&P)
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service have been putting extra effort in recent years to restore westslope cutthroat to make sure this beautiful Montana native does not disappear from its native range.
Fish surveys and genetic testing have been done on about seven suspect populations in the Sun drainage since 1991. Surveys were also conducted to find “fishless” areas in small creeks above natural waterfalls that might provide good reintroduction sites for native cutthroat.