Sign of bull trout found in Yakima Basin with use of environmental DNA

Sign of bull trout found in Yakima Basin with use of environmental DNA.

CLE ELUM, Wash.- The Teanaway River flows right outside of Cle Elum and is a popular place for people to go as it gets warmer.

It's also one of the spots where wildlife organizations are trying to find the endangered bull trout.

“If you don't know where something is you're trying to protect, how are you going to protect them?” project manager Connor Parrish said.

He said the fish lives in remote parts of the river and it takes way too much time and money to find it with traditional methods.

So, they used a completely different one with environmental DNA.

Parrish said the bull trout body is covered in a slimy mucus and it can be detected in the water.

“The only bull trout DNA that could show up in here is from a potential fish that is up stream,” he said.

Instead of searching the entire Yakima Basin for places where bull trout are known to be, Parrish said they look in spots they haven't been before.

He said it could take a 20-mile hike to get to some of those areas, but they were able to find four different areas where bull trout DNA was found.

While four positives out of 300 samples doesn't sound great, Parrish said this is huge when it comes to bringing them back.

“One or two fish isn't a big deal but now that their numbers are so low, even removing one fish from that system is causing a lot of problems,” he said.

People visiting rivers along the Yakima Basin can also do their part in restoring the bull trout population.

One way is by not building rock dams when enjoying the water.

“It's a passage barrier, just like any dam would be for any species that would be trying to migrate upstream,” Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh with Mid-Columbia Fisheries said.

She said the dams could stop the fish from being able to reproduce.

It's okay have fun in the water, but Wajeeh said just leave the stream as it is.

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