Trout research faces funding cuts |

Trout research faces funding cuts

BOB BERWYNsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – Efforts by Colorado researchers to breed rainbow trout that can resist whirling disease infection are threatened by federal budget cuts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it will eliminate all funding for resistant trout research.”This will have a severe impact … this will likely cause the resistant trout research to go away,” said Dave Kumlien, director of the Montana-based Whirling Disease Foundation.The cuts may affect the Colorado Division of Wildlife programs aimed at restoring rainbow trout populations in the wild, including ongoing field experiments in the Gunnision and South Platte rivers.Based on the budget cuts, the University of California at Davis is already considering laying off some researchers, Kumlien said, explaining that the California school has been the focal point for coordinating research across the West.Kumlien said his organization will go back to the Fish and Wildlife Service and at least seek to restore some minimal “life-support” funding. He said there is some political support from western congressional delegations, including Colorado’s.Colorado’s efforts have focused on breeding Colorado River rainbows with a strain of resistant trout from Germany. Other states have looked at using remnant populations of trout to find a genetic strain that can withstand the infection.Continued research is important because whirling disease is still spreading. Some research shows that native cutthroat trout could be susceptible to the disease. CDOW researcher Barry Nehring said a handful of cutthroat populations around Colorado Whitefish, a small native fish that’s an important food source for predatory trout, are also at risk.

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