It’s not breaking news that Bull Trout are one of the most endangered fish in the United States, heck they’ve been on the Endangered Species list since 1998. In most of their current range, the species is not allowed to be targeted while fishing, and if caught, must be IMMEDIATELY released. It was recently brought to our attention that the species is still being legally harvested in at least one Oregon fishery, Lake Billy Chinook, where anglers are allowed to keep one Bull trout per person.
Recently, a local conservationist has launched a Change.org petition to bring attention to the issue with the hopes of finally getting these incredible fish the protections they deserve as they attempt to recover.
From the Petition:
“One of the most threatened fish in North America needs your help! Due to overfishing and their mistaken status as a “trash fish” in the early 20th century, bull trout now inhabit less than 20% of their historical range. Yet Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon is one of the last two bodies of water in the USA where they can be caught and harvested.
Since 1998, bull trout have been listed as “threatened” as part of the Endangered Species Act, and are heavily protected by water quality standards as well as other environmental protection laws. These prehistoric char are only found in several states in the US: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and the Jarbridge River in Northern Nevada. In Montana and Washington, the targeting of this species by fishermen is illegal. In Idaho and almost all of Oregon, they can be targeted but must be released immediately unharmed.
However, in Lake Billy Chinook, one bull trout per person, per day is allowed to be harvested. Hungry Horse Reservoir in Montana is the only other place I have found that also allows this practice, yet their regulations state that anglers may only keep TWO bull trout caught during a calendar year. That same fisherman could come to Billy Chinook and catch and kill 365 in the same amount of time! How can it possibly be legal to kill an endangered species? This sort of practice is what led to them being placed on the ESA in the first place! If it is true that this practice is ok because there is a thriving population in Billy Chinook, as I was told by ODFW representative Jerry George, why not let them thrive?! Many scientists and biologists studying these majestic fish believe that we will see their extinction in our lifetime.”