MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The number of lake trout that are reproducing in Lake Champlain is up, meaning there is less of a need to stock the fish this year, biologists say.
A stocking program begun in the 1950s by Vermont, New York, and the federal government through the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative has in recent years been stocking 82,000 yearling trout in the lake annually. The fins of the stocked trout are notched so they can be identified.
In the last 10 years, University of Vermont researchers have documented an increasing number of unclipped juvenile lake trout, which means they were the result of natural reproduction.
Now, fisheries managers are proposing to reduce lake trout stocking by 33% to maintain lake trout populations while avoiding overstocking.
“The observations of increasing wild lake trout production in Lake Champlain is exciting news and a testament to the progress that has been made in the last 60 years,” Vermont Director of Fisheries Eric Palmer said in a statement.
To achieve the reduction, the program will initially eliminate lake trout stocked by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Lake Champlain stocking levels of landlocked Atlantic salmon, brown trout and steelhead won’t change.
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Featured image: Adult lake trout reared at Iron River National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. (Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS)