Scientists and Conservationists Return to Native Trout

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Fish disembarking from the Werra that February in 1883 were trout-to-be in the form of 80,000 fertilized eggs from a hard-fighting strain of Salmo trutta, the European brown trout, which makes its first appearance in Roman literature about a.d. 200, swims through Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, inspires Franz Schubert's "Trout" quintet of 1819 and establishes a beachhead in North America with this 1883 shipment.

The consequences of its arrival are felt—on the riverbank, in public hearing rooms and in courthouses—to this day. Indeed, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that the continuing story of trout in America—native and introduced, threatened and thriving—is a fair reflection of our own restless history, with its marathon migrations, its paroxysms of prejudice, its well-intentioned blunders and its reassuring urge to set those blunders right again.

Recently the tide has been turning and there is a broad acceptance that native fish should be preferred over introduced species. This is not always an accepted conclusion in large waters with well established wild fisheries of introduced trout. These conflicts are being resolved throughout the land by cooperative work by scientists, conservationists, landowners, fishing groups and other stakehoders. Smithsonian magazine recently ran a comprehensive article that documents the introduction of alien species the result and work being accomplished to accept their presence or on a limited basis to eliminate the aliens and reintroduce natives. The complete article may be read here.

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