Bull trout. Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are members of the family Salmonidae and are char native to Cascadia. Compared to other salmonids, bull trout have more specific habitat requirements that appear to influence their distribution and abundance while making them particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. They need cold water to survive, so they are seldom found in waters where temperatures exceed 59 to 64 degrees (F). They also require stable stream channels, clean spawning and rearing gravel, complex and diverse cover, and unblocked migratory corridors.

Recognized by the Great Northern LCC as a conservation target and a priority issue of the Cascadia Partner Forum, ibull trout are listed as “threatened” by the Endangered Species Act in the United States (even though Washington classifies bull trout as a game fish, most of their populations across the state fall under the protected of the ESA and therefore they cannot be fished for or kept if accidently caught while fishing).   They are a species of special concern in British Columbia.

With the support of the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission and North Pacific LCC, our partner forum is supporting a two pilot efforts in Cascadia in coordination with The Range-wide Bull Trout eDNA project – one in the Skagit watershed led by North Cascades National Park and one in the Bridge and Seton watersheds led by the St’at’imc First Nation.  These efforts are collecting samples from rivers in these watersheds to utilize eDNA testing to detect the presence of bull trout and other priority species.

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