Colorado’s state fish, considered extinct since 1937, is reproducing naturally in native waters

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Representational imageJarrett Mills

After a decade of work to protect and reproduce greenbacks, state biologists announced that Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, considered extinct since 1937, is now reproducing on its own.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced in a statement:

After more than a decade of intensive efforts to rescue the greenback cutthroat trout from the brink of extinction. We have discovered that the state fish is naturally reproducing in Herman Gulch, one of the first places the agency stocked it in its native South Platte River drainage. In 2016, CPW began stocking the greenback fry that hatch from those eggs into Herman Gulch west of Denver. Stocking into other streams in the South Platte drainage soon followed. Today, fledgling greenback populations exist in four South Platte basin streams. But only the fish in Herman Gulch have existed long enough to reach adulthood and begin reproducing.

The fish was declared extinct after succumbing to pollution from mining, pressure from fishing, and competition from other trout species. Sickly green with rusty spots, the state fish can grow up to around 18 inches and 10 pounds. It is reputed to have the most brilliant spawning coloration of any cutthroat trout species.

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