Removing & restoring fish
In preparation for these treatment days, fisheries biologists waded through miles of deep pools and hidden pockets to find brook trout and other native fish such as the blacknose dace that they wanted to save in Lynn Camp Prong and its tributaries. They electroshocked the native fish—stunned them with a low amplitude current—and gathered them all in holding tanks, which they then transported to a “foster” stream in the same watershed that had been treated four years earlier for this purpose. There the brook trout would wait through the winter until they could be released once again to Lynn Camp Prong.
People have long managed waterways for certain species. Even the original introduction of the non-native brown and rainbow trout was a kind of management: before the Park existed, people released the fish into Smokies’ streams so anglers would have more fish to catch.
NPS archive photo.
In 1987 the park began restoring brook trout, and in 2000 began treating streams with Antimycin. Because this antibiotic has been accepted as relatively safe and can be neutralized when biologists want to treat a small area or for a short amount of time, National Parks and other protected areas choose it to treat their streams and lakes. The EPA representative at the Lynn Camp Prong treatment was there to observe and gather information about its field use in a protected area.
Of course, moving fish, treating streams, and restoring fish is only part of the whole brook trout restoration story. Read on for more information about how biologists are coming to understand the movements and backgrounds of the brook trout on page 3: Who’s who in fish: genetic research.