Westslope Cutthroat Trout Population and Habitat Monitoring
In 2018, the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills Land Footprint Plan was introduced by the Government of Alberta to reduce cumulative impacts on the landscape by changing land-use patterns to allow existing land footprints to recover. The resulting Livingstone-Porcupine Hills Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) encompasses the largest remaining westslope cutthroat trout (WSCT) core area in Alberta. Current land-use restrictions and habitat recovery activities in these critical habitats are anticipated to benefit fish populations and aid in species recovery. Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) conducted a multi-year WSCT population monitoring study in four sub-watersheds (i.e., Livingstone River, upper Oldman [UOM] River, Dutch Creek, and Hidden Creek) in the UOM River WSCT core area to collect fish data at index sites for five years to determine natural WSCT population variations within the PLUZ. These data will be used to examine population response to the new PLUZ restrictions. In 2022, the final year of the study, we completed fish surveys at 39 electrofishing sites in the UOM core area. In comparison to previous years, overall catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of WSCT in 2022 were highest in the UOM River and Livingstone River sub-watersheds and lowest in the Dutch Creek and Hidden Creek sub-watersheds. Average fish size was largest in the Hidden Creek sub-watershed and smallest in the Dutch Creek sub-watershed. This was the final population monitoring year and results will be used to examine the ongoing effects of the recent changes to land use in the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills PLUZ.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Canada Nature Fund, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Habitat Stewardship Program Fund, Government of Alberta