DENVER - A new study says that a genetically pure population of Colorado's state fish - the greenback cutthroat trout - survives only in a four-mile stretch of a creek southwest of Colorado Springs.
University of Colorado scientists and other researchers used historical research and analysis of fish DNA to confirm the only pure greenback cutthroat trout exist in Bear Creek. The creek is a tributary of the Arkansas River.
The Denver Post reported that the study, released Monday, could strengthen efforts to protect Bear Creek from damage caused by hikers, motorcyclists and others who use trails along the creek.
"We've known for some time that the trout in Bear Creek were unique," Doug Krieger, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Post. "But we didn't realize they were the only surviving greenback population."
The study's authors identified six cutthroat lineages native to Colorado, two of which are believed to be extinct. The Bear Creek population apparently was stocked there in the 1880s by a hotel operator, the study said.