NPS killing out non-native trout in Smokies.


Mar 11, 2001
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NPS killing out non-native trout in Smokies.

September 30, 2001

NEWFOUND GAP, North Carolina (AP) -- Crews from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are using a toxic antibiotic to kill off non-native rainbow trout and make room for the native brook trout in a mountain stream along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Workers have been moving brook trout -- the only trout species native to the Smokies -- from the two-mile stretch of creek they plan to treat.

The fish will be returned after the antibiotic antimycin kills off the rainbow trout that compete with the native fish for habitat. Another chemical will be used at the edge of the treatment area to neutralize the antibiotic and prevent it from spreading downstream. The process isn't dangerous to humans and shouldn't harm animals or other species in the park, park spokesman Bob Miller said. Still, he said the area would be closed to the public during the treatment.

The park service says it is doing the work to keep the brook trout off the endangered species list.

"Native brook trout are being squeezed," said Carroll Schell, parks resource management specialist for the Smokies. "The brook trout has lost over 70 percent of its range in the park."

At higher elevations, acid rain threatens the greenish, speckled fish, sometimes known as a speckled trout. Rainbow trout, a more aggressive species introduced to the Smokies from the western United States, is taking over brook trout habitat in middle and lower elevations.

It leaves the brook trout being treat "like the runt of the litter," Schell said.

The goal, parks officials said, is to restore brook trout to at least 40 miles of the park's 2,000 miles of streams.

Park officials futilely tried last October to use the chemical in the stream. By then, fallen leaves limited the spread of the antibiotic. The work also led crews to discover the rare caddisfly -- an insect found nowhere else in the world, Schell said.

This year's treatment comes while the caddisfly is mating and away from the water and before fallen leaves clog the stream.

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