Westslope Cutthroat Trout Population Monitoring in the Upper Oldman River Core Area
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 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. ACA is conducting a multi-year WSCT population monitoring study in four watersheds at the hydrologic unit code 10 scale in the upper Oldman (UOM) River watershed. The objective of the study is 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 detect population response to the new PLUZ restrictions. In 2021, study year four of five, we completed fish surveys at 39 electrofishing sites in the UOM core area. In comparison to previous years, WSCT catch per unit effort (CPUE) rates in 2021 were highest in all watersheds except at Hidden Creek. Similar to previous years, 2021 WSCT catches were highest in the Livingstone River (n = 885) and UOM River (n = 509) watersheds and lowest in the Dutch Creek (n = 76) and Hidden Creek (n = 16) watersheds. We will continue monitoring these four watersheds in 2022 (study year five of five) to examine the ongoing effects of the recent changes to land use in the Livingstone PLUZ.
Alberta Environment and Parks, Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Canada Nature Fund, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Habitat Stewardship Program Fund