Utah uses airdrops to restock fish populations


What sounds like a water-based sport practiced around Christmas time, but is really an ingenious way of replenishing fish populations in hard-to-access mountain lakes?  Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) calls it “extreme fish stocking.”

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The practice involves dropping scores of small fish – in this case, trout – into high-mountain lakes from small airplanes flying just a few hundred feet from the ground (Miami Herald).

Utah DWR on Twitter

Fun fact: We stock many of Utah’s high-mountain lakes from the air. The fish are tiny – anywhere from 1-3 inches long – which allows more than 95% of them to survive the fall. #Utah #TroutTuesday https://t.co/kotDe91Zzw

Although it may seem like an extreme measure, Utah wildlife officials said the method is less stressful for the fish than hauling them over land, and boasts a survival rate of between 95 and 99 percent.

“Because of their small size (reduced mass), the process of dropping doesn’t hurt the fish,” Utah’s DWR wrote on Twitter. “Think of it as a high diver diving into a deep pool of water.”

The practice has been the preferred way of restocking fish populations in backcountry lakes since the 1950s, according to a biologist from Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources.

Why is this the preferred method?

The use of small airplanes became the preferred method of fish stocking because many lakes are  hard to reach with cars, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) biologist Matt Mckell.

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What other methods does Utah use to restock fish populations in mountain lakes?

Traditional fish stocking methods are done with trucks that hold the fish in a carrying tank. The fish are then dumped into water sources using pipes.

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What do other countries do?

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