Anglers Who Scrape Steelhead Scales Can Add To Lake Superior Study

By on March 17, 2016
Steelhead scale sampling. (Credit: Minnesota Steelheader)

For decades, fisheries biologists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have been trying to restore wild steelhead populations along the North Shore of Lake Superior. These stocks, that historically have reproduced by swimming up rivers to spawn, have been devastated by overfishing.

To get a sense of the effectiveness of their work to restore the fish, officials are asking for help from anglers. Specifically with each steelhead that is caught, the biologists would like for fishermen to scrape some DNA off their catch and send it in.

Though it seems like an odd request, there is good reason for it. With DNA analysis, scientists will be able to tell how widespread the fish are that they’ve stocked. In addition, the data may help to show if the non-wild steelhead, called Kamloops, could actually be hurting the spawning success of their wild counterparts.

Because the two types of steelhead are identical and behave the same, it’s difficult to visually assess the two populations. If you are interested in sending in a DNA sample, a video showing how to correctly take one is posted here.

Top image: Steelhead scale sampling. (Credit: Minnesota Steelheader)

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