We’re hooked on native trout!
The cold running streams and lakes of western Alberta are home to several native fish including bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout (both listed as Threatened species). Both species were of the first fish to recolonize western Canada after the last glaciation approximately 13,000 years ago and are adapted to cool waters protected by riparian vegetation. While species like the grizzly bear get a lot of attention, fewer people think of the importance of less furry (but certainly not less cute) species, like trout.
Our Underwater heroes
What's So Special About Native Trout?
Alberta’s native trout and their habitats in the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains are part of our identity as Albertans. Learn about the benefits these important species are providing to Albertans.
Contribute to Alberta’s biodiversity
Provide recreational opportunities for anglers
Act as indicators for the health of our headwaters
Bull trout are Alberta’s official provincial fish
Alberta is Native Trout Country!
Alberta’s native trout, and their Eastern Slopes habitats, are a huge part of what makes Alberta’s backcountry so incredible. The “big three” as we like to call them — Bull Trout, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, and Athabasca Rainbow Trout — live in the cold, clean, clear, and connected waterways that Alberta is famous for. When these native trout are thriving, it shows that we’re taking good care of our lands and waters.
But Alberta’s native trout aren’t thriving. In fact, they’re some of the most threatened species in the province. This is not a good indicator for the health of our streams in the Eastern Slopes.
We all have a role to play in protecting Alberta’s native trout and their habitats. No matter how we use the land in the Eastern Slopes — camping, hiking, fishing, off-roading, farming, ranching — we have a responsibility to pursue our activities in ways that keep our waters cold, clean, clear, and connected.
To find out how you can help protect Alberta native trout, visit albertanativetrout.com.
CPAWS Southern Alberta is a member of The Alberta Native Trout Collaborative — a group of partner organizations working to advance native trout recovery in Alberta via habitat restoration, restoration stocking, land use planning, watershed and fish population assessments, and public education. Collaborating members include Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Southern Alberta Chapter, Trout Unlimited Canada, and Foothills Research Institute.
Protecting our fishy friends
Alberta’s native trout species have seen drastic declines in recent years. Today most populations are limited to the less accessible upstream reaches of streams and rivers in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Habitat degradation, overharvesting, the introduction of invasive species, and industrial activity such as mining and logging, have all contributed to the decline of bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Given their species’ cold water requirements, both species may be especially vulnerable to climate change.
Although protected areas exist on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, they are often small and do not necessarily encompass all the habitats required by the various life history stages of some bull and cutthroat trout populations, particularly migratory forms.
As part of the Native Trout Collaborative, CPAWS Southern Alberta is working with Trout Unlimited Canada, Cows and Fish, Alberta Conservation Association, Foothills Research Institute, and Alberta Environment and Parks to restore habitats and promote recovery of native trout in the province. Raising awareness, fostering community, and encouraging action will lead the path to government, industry, and land and water users motivated to create positive change for native trout.
CPAWS Southern Alberta is encouraging the government to implement the strategies outlined in the recovery plans for bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. We are also working to ensure recreation management and industrial developments in native trout habitat do not impact critical habitats for these species through our coal, land-use planning, and effective forest management campaign.
Support our continued efforts to protect and recover native trout populations by donating today
Photo Credit: Wayne Simpson
Photo Credit: Christopher Landry
- Status of Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Alberta (Government of Alberta)
- Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan (Government of Alberta)
- Recovery Strategy for the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), Alberta Populations in Canada (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
- Status of Bull Trout in Alberta (Government of Alberta)
- Bull Trout Conservation Management Plan (Government of Alberta)
- Fish Conservation and Management Strategy for Alberta (Government of Alberta)