Apache trout Oncorhynchus gilae
ESA status: threatened
The Apache trout is the state fish of Arizona, and along with the Gila trout is one of only two species of trout native to that state. The Apache trout was listed as “endangered” in 1967 but the species was downlisted to “threatened” in 1975 after successful culturing in captivity and a greater knowledge of existing populations.
The original listing of the Apache trout occurred as a result of the species’ shrinking distribution and decreasing population, primarily due to habitat alterations. Land -use practices including logging, livestock grazing, reservoir construction, agriculture, and road construction caused damage to Apache trout habitat. The trout also suffered from negative interactions with non-native salmonids.
The Apache trout historically occurred in Arizona in the upper Salt River division of the Gila River basin, in the headwaters of the Little Colorado River watershed, and in the Blue River of the San Francisco River watershed. The trout has suffered a 95% reduction in range due to hybridization with rainbow trout and competition with brook and brown trouts. It is now limited within the Gila Bioregion to a small number of tributaries in the White Mountains. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, when the recovery criteria and site-specific management actions are met, pure Apache trout will exist in at least 30 populations in approximately 275 kilometers (km) (171 miles) of protected stream habitat.
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photo credit: John Rinne