Two More Alberta Native Trout added to Species at Risk List

Calgary Alberta, August 23, 2019
For Immediate Release

Albertan conservationists welcome the federal listing of two native trout as species at risk. On August 21, the federal government announced that both the Alberta Bull Trout (Saskatchewan – Nelson Rivers populations) and Athabasca Rainbow Trout would be elevated from special concern to threatened and endangered respectively under Canada’s species at risk legislation.  Both the Athabasca Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout are in rapid population decline in the province.  Habitat fragmentation and degradation, overharvesting, and the introduction of non-native species have all contributed to the loss of the species in Alberta.

“We are pleased to see that the federal government is moving forward with the listing of these species, and we hope to see strong recovery plans developed as a result.” said Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with the southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). “Upland activities such as mining, logging, agriculture, road construction, irrigation, dams, grazing and motorized recreation all have a significant impact on our province’s native trout. Protection from and mitigation of the negative impacts of these activities needs to be the backbone of a recovery plan for these species.”

In many areas these roads also lead to increases in OHV traffic, leading to increased stream bank erosion and sedimentation as well as increased angling pressure, as streams become more accessible.  Logging can result in faster runoff events and flooding as well as cause changes in the groundwater recharge and seasonal flows.  “Critical habitat for both species should be designated immediately and include upstream tributaries and upland areas that affect in-stream habitat. Permanent habitat protection and restoration measures should be a priority in the recovery plan.” said Morrison

Given the species’ cold water requirements, Bull Trout and Athabasca Rainbow Trout may also be especially vulnerable to climate change. As water temperatures increase, areas may become less suitable for both species. Morrison also adds, “We support the development of federal recovery strategies for Athabasca Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout, and urge the federal government to collaborate with Alberta to develop strong recovery strategies, including a comprehensive plan for recovery of native fish species across the eastern slopes of Alberta.” Full details on the federal listing can be found starting on page 168 of the Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 153, No. 17