Wild Trout XI - 40th Anniversary in West Yellowstone
Wild Trout XI - An Overview
Wild Trout XI was held September 22-25, 2014 in beautiful West Yellowstone, Montana. This year's symposium welcomed over 100 attendees from as far away as Sweden and Finland. Led by symposium chair Dan Schill of Idaho Fish and Game, attendees were treated to outstanding quality and variety of oral and poster presentations.
The theme for WT-XI was "Looking Back and Moving Forward" and this was well framed by our plenary speakers. Bob Gresswell, Research Biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Bozeman, Montana reviewed the history and evolution of the Wild Trout Symposium. He highlighted some of the key players supporting the symposium since its inception and in driving conservation of wild trout and their habitat. Bob suggested that the evolution of the Wild Trout Symposium series was a reflection of social change over the past 40 years, and he described the symposium as "a source of energy for those involved with wild trout".
Bob Carline, retired Unit Leader of the USGS Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, spoke on the important issues and themes that have been addressed over the last 40 years of Wild Trout symposia. He described the essential basis of past and future symposia as an intersection of politics, policies, and science. Bob described how the symposia have contributed to the science, management, and conservation of wild trout. Major themes highlighted were special regulations, an ecosystem approach at the watershed scale, fish genetics, large-scale environmental perturbations, communication and education, and the quality of science.
The final plenary session speaker was Kevin Meyer, Fisheries Research Biologist with Idaho Fish and Game, speaking about the future of wild trout management. He predicted some trends likely to continue include catch-and-release regulations on wild trout fisheries, although he pointed out that some species can withstand exceptionally high levels of harvest without hardly any measureable impact on the population. He talked about a declining need to stock hatchery trout in streams but emphasized they may be a useful tool for wild trout management, especially to divert harvest-oriented anglers away from wild trout waters. Kevin predicted there will continue to be more pressure on wild trout resources due to an expanding human population. Finally, he emphasized the importance of maintaining the public's interest in nature in general or wild trout in particular, and suggested this may be our greatest challenge as fisheries professionals.
Symposium presentations covered a wide range of topics under the following sessions: Role of Ecological Resilience in Wild Trout Management; Wild Trout Socioeconomics; Struggling with Invasive Species; Brook Trout Research and Management in Their Native Range; Status and Management of Native Salmonids; Effects of Special Regulations and Stocking on Wild Trout and Wild Trout Population Monitoring.
The symposium hosted over 40 poster presentations this year with topics including innovative sampling and monitoring methodologies, trout habitat restoration, genetics, and angler education and engagement.
Following the banquet and in keeping with the theme of "Looking Back and Moving Forward", attendees were invited to the screening of two short films. The Oxbow Incident is a film produced by Idaho Power in 1958 explaining the circumstances that occurred during construction at the Oxbow Dam that caused the death of thousands of spawning salmon and steelhead. A Trout Stream in Winter (1979) shows how living things in a mountain stream survive in winter.
Wild Trout XI recognized those making significant contributions to the conservation and management of wild trout during the Awards Luncheon. Hosted by retired National Park Service fisheries biologist Steve Moore, the following awards were presented:
Aldo Starker Leopold Wild Trout Medal:
- 2013 (postponed meeting): Jerry Mallet, retired Idaho Fish and Game
- 2014: Mark Hudy, retired U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service
TU/FFF Stewardship Award: Jeff Hastings; Project Manager Driftless Area Restoration Project
Ron Remmick Undergraduate Scholarship Award: Henry Hansen, University of Wisconsin-Stout
Marty Seldon Graduate Scholarship Award:
- 2013 (postponed meeting):
-    Jessica R. Reilly, MS Student, University of Alberta
-    David C. Kazyak, Ph.D. Student, University of Maryland
-    Casey Weathers, Ph.D. Student, Pennsylvania State University
-    Chris Free, Ph.D. Student, Rutgers University
Wild Trout XI provided a forum for fisheries professionals, conservationists and interested anglers to share their research and ideas in a welcoming and informal environment. The breathtaking Yellowstone National Park is adjacent to the conference location and attendees took advantage to network and work the water of nearby streams and rivers. We hope you will join us for WT-XII in West Yellowstone, MT in fall of 2017.