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Gila Trout Oncorhynchus gilae


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Gila Trout
© Kim Mello/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Alternate name: Salmo gilae

Family: Salmonidae, Trouts view all from this family

Description 13" (32 cm). Yellowish-brown, gold, or copper above with numerous small, closely placed black dots on back and uppersides and extending onto belly. Small dark spots on dorsal and caudal fins.

Endangered Status The Gila Trout is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its range in Arizona and New Mexico. In the first half of the 20th century, a variety of factors began to have a deleterious effect on populations of the Gila Trout. These included the stocking of streams with non-native sportfish, such as Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout, and the modification of habitat caused by numerous activities, including the clearing of waterside vegetation, the altering of waterways to provide water for residences, farms, and industry, and the runoff of sediment and contaminants into the water. Trout need clear, cold water, and their waters began to cloud up with silt and to warm up as the shading vegetation was stripped away. By 1960 there were only five small populations of Gila Trout surviving. Measures have been taken to breed the fish and restock them in their native streams. The recovery program had a major setback in 1989 when a forest fire and the resulting runoff of ash and sediment into Main Diamond Creek, New Mexico, severely depleted the Gila Trout population there. Efforts continue to rescue this trout.

Habitat Mountain streams.

Range New Mexico and central Arizona.

Discussion This species was formerly called Salmo gilae, and sometimes has been considered a subspecies of the Apache Trout (O. apache).