Muskeg River Core Area Bull Trout Status

Bull trout is a sport fish native to the eastern slopes of Alberta. In response to alarming declines in abundance and distribution, the provincial government imposed a zero bag limit for the species in 1995. Despite this and other conservation measures, most bull trout populations remaining in the province are currently considered to be At Risk of extirpation, and several populations, including the Muskeg River population, are considered at High Risk. In the final year of this two-year project, we sampled 25 sites in the Muskeg River core area to assess sport fish distribution. We captured 89 bull trout, 231 brook trout and 159 rainbow trout using backpack electrofishing. Juvenile bull trout were detected at six of the 25 sites. We used angling and raft electrofishing gear to capture bull trout in two reaches of the Muskeg River that have been assessed periodically since the 1990s. Each bull trout captured was implanted with a tag to allow us to identify individuals. We estimated the abundance of bull trout in the first two km of the upper reach to be 50 (95% confidence interval = 41 – 76). We only captured 15 bull trout in 4.5 km of the lower reach. Our poor catch precluded us from estimating bull trout abundance in this reach. Our study results provide managers with quantitative, up-to-date information on the abundance and distribution of adult and juvenile bull trout in the Muskeg River core area.


Alberta Culture and Tourism, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Stream Watch Conservation Coalition, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Annual Summaries

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Title Year Category
Muskeg River Core Area Bull Trout Status 2013-2014 1
Muskeg River Core Area Bull Trout Status 2014-2015 1