Ram River Bull Trout Assessment
Bull trout is a native sport species classed as Threatened in Alberta and is particularly sensitive to habitat change. A government-led initiative, the North-Central Native Trout (NCNT) program, was implemented in 2017 to recover native trout and whitefish in the central and northern East Slopes of Alberta. The program involves implementation of recovery actions (e.g., trail remediation/closure, implementing industry best-management practices, suppression of non-native species) in an adaptive management framework. Success of this program will be measured using Alberta Environment and Park’s Fish Sustainability Index (FSI). The FSI is a standardized process of assessment that provides a landscape-level overview of fish sustainability within the province and enables broad-scale evaluation of management actions and land-use planning. In the summer of 2018, we used a combination of backpack electrofishing and redd surveys to assess the bull trout population in the lower Ram River watershed. Our sample frame for backpack electrofishing included 12 randomly selected sites. We detected fish at six of the sites, catching six different species. We captured 48 bull trout electrofishing, 42 of which were captured at a single site on an unnamed tributary to the Ram River. We also counted 78 bull trout redds on a survey of a 7.5 km reach of Fall Creek. Our study provides land-use managers with information on fish species distribution and abundance necessary to minimize land-use impacts on fish, evaluate bull trout status, and otherwise balance the diverse values of the Ram River watershed.
Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Streamwatch Conservation Coalition, Sundre Forest Products – A Division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.
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