Capitol Reef National Park contains nearly a quarter million acres in the slickrock country of southern Utah. Wildlife is diverse because of a variety of habitats such as pinyon-juniper, perennial streams, dry washes and rock cliffs. We solicit details of the wildlife seen by visitors because such information adds immeasurably to the value of the park records.
SALMONIDAE -- Trout & Chars
Brown Trout (Salmo trutta): Brown trout are native to Europe and western Asia and are found in the park in the Fremont River. They are piscivorous (fish-eating) but also consume amphibians, rodents, and invertebrates, including insects, snails, and crayfish.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus gairdnerii): These trout are native to western North America, but not to Utah. They are fairly uncommon but have been found in the Fremont River and upper reaches of Pleasant Creek. Rainbow trout eat primarily invertebrates, including insects, worms, zooplankton, and insect larvae.
CATOSTOMIDAE -- Suckers
Flannelmouth Sucker (Catostomus latipinnis): Flannelmouth suckers are native to the Colorado River system, including the Fremont River. They are herbivorous and ascend streams in the spring to spawn. In recent times, Utah flannelmouth sucker populations have been reduced in both numbers and distribution, primarily due to flow alteration, habitat loss/alteration. The species is included on the Utah Sensitive Species List. These benthic (bottom dwelling) fish primarily eat algae, although invertebrates and many types of plant matter are also consumed.
Bluehead Sucker (Pantosteus delphinus): These suckers are native to the Colorado River system and are found in the Fremont River, Pleasant Creek, and Sulphur Creek. They are usually found in riffles of the streams. Bluehead suckers feed on algae, slime, and aquatic insect larvae. This species is included on the Utah Sensitive Species List. These benthic (bottom dwelling) species have a mouth modified to scrape algae (the primary food of the bluehead sucker) from the surface of rocks.
Mountain Sucker (Catostomus platyrhychus): Mountain suckers are native to Utah's Bonneville Basin, as well as the Colorado River system. They are probably present, but unconfirmed, in the park. These benthic (bottom dwelling) fish eat algae, higher plants, and occasionally invertebrates. Mountain suckers are small and usually 6-8 in (15-20 cm) in length.
Utah Sucker (Catostomus ardens): These fish are native to the Bonneville Basin of Utah, where they were introduced into the Colorado River system and occur in the Fremont River. They are relatively abundant in Utah, especially in Bear Lake. These benthic (bottom dwelling) fish are capable of adapting to many different types of environmental conditions in both lakes and streams. Utah suckers consume plant and animal matter, with algae being a common food item.
CYPRINIDAE-- Chubs, Dace, Minnows, & Shiners
Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus): Speckled dace are native to the Fremont River and other perennial streams in the park, where they are common and widespread. They prefer rubble-strewn riffle areas and feed on algae and other plant materials as well as small crustaceans, insect larvae, and small snails. These benthic feeders (they feed on the bottom), eat primarily insect larvae and other invertebrates, although algae and fish eggs are also consumed.
Utah Chub (Gila atraria): Utah chub are native to the Bonneville Basin of Utah, where they were introduced into the Colorado River system and occur in the Fremont River. They are generalized feeders, consuming higher plants, algae, terrestrial and aquatic insects, snails, crustaceans, and small fish. These fish spawn during July.
Southern Leatherside Chub (Lepidomeda aliciae): These fish are native to the Bonneville Basin of Utah, where they were introduced into the Colorado River system and occur in the Fremont River, Pleasant Creek, and Sulphur Creek.
Redside Shiner (Richardsonius balteatus): Redside shiners are native to Bonneville and Columbia River basins, where they were introduced into the Colorado River system and are common in the Fremont River. They feed on small aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans, and some plant debris. These fish spawn in late June.
ICTALURIDAE -- Catfish
Black Bullhead (Ameiurus melas): These fish are not native to Utah and are occasionally found in Halls Creek near the southern park boundary where they migrate from Lake Powell. Black bullheads are adaptable to a wide range of aquatic conditions but show preference for more quiet and muddier parts of a stream. They consume fishes, many types of invertebrates, plant matter, and detritus. These fish spawn from late spring to early summer.
Bluegill (Lepomis machrochirus): Bluegills are not native to Utah and are occasionally found in Halls Creek where they migrate from Lake Powell. They feed on mollusks, crustaceans, insect larvae, and occasionally on small fish and aquatic plants. Bluegills consume small fishes, zooplankton, insects, insect larvae, and other invertebrates. These fish spawn in the spring and summer, with eggs hatching in about 2 days.
COTTIDAE -- Sculpin
Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi): Mottled sculpin are a native species found in the Fremont River. They are carnivorous, bottom feeders that utilize insect larvae, crustaceans, small fish and snails. These fish spawn from late winter through the spring.
Did You Know?
Desert bighorn sheep, once common in the Capitol Reef area, were reintroduced in 1996 and 1997, and have since thrived here. Visitors have reported seeing them in Capitol Gorge, Grand Wash, and along the Fremont River corridor.