Federal scientists hiked into the Carson-Iceberg wilderness this week in an effort to restore the Paiute cutthroat trout to its former territory by poisoning a section of Silver King Creek in far southern Alpine County.
“They are up there treating the stream,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Jeanne Stafford said Tuesday. “They hiked in on Sunday and some more on Monday, and plan to be up there all week.”
Starting Wednesday, scientists are putting rotenone in the creek near Silver King Canyon and accessible portions of Tamarack Creek, Tamarack Lake Creek and the lower reaches of Coyote Valley Creek.
The creeks were stocked with fish such as rainbow and golden trout long ago, and those fish have to be cleared out before the Paiute cutthroat can be reintroduced.
Signs will be posted along the creek where it has been poisoned, and levels of the poison monitored.
Silver King Creek is a tributary of the Carson River’s East Fork.
Stafford said it could end up taking three to five years before it’s ready for the endangered trout to be stocked there.
The effort to restore what’s called the rarest trout in North America has been in the works for more than a decade.
A cousin to the Lahontan cutthroat trout, the Paiute trout’s original range was limited to the areas around Silver King Creek.
Once done, the habitat of the Paiute trout will cover nine miles of stream habitat, nearly doubling its current range, and reducing the risk of extinction or interbreeding with non-native trout.
The effort has long been opposed by anglers, who want to preserve the fishing in Silver King Creek.