A high priority goal of our agency is to acquire more complete information on the current distribution and abundance of bull trout within each core area of the Puget Sound Management Unit. Annual spawning nest (redd) counts provide a non-invasive way to monitor relative population strength of bull trout. Each fall, experienced fisheries personnel count the number of redds in predetermined stream sections. Not all known bull trout spawning areas are monitored, since weather and remoteness limit the ability to conduct the fall surveys in some areas. Comparison of the count numbers over time can provide insight into long- and short-term population trends and alert fishery and land managers to potential problems within aquatic systems.
Since State funds for surveying bull trout redds was no longer available, we provided money to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to continue collecting this valuable data through return year 2011 and to expand the number of survey sites. Staff from WDFW surveyed for bull trout redds within the Skagit, Snohomish, and Stillaguamish River basins from 2009 to 2011. Their findings include:
- Fewer bull trout redds were observed in the past 3 years than were observed from 2006 to 2008.
- The total bull trout redd count was very similar in 2011 to what was observed in 2010. However, some areas had more redds than in 2010 and some had less.
- The total redd count of all sites (637) was 25% below the average count from the years 2006 through 2010 (850).
You can learn more about bull trout biology, critical habitat, and conservation measures at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/bulltrout/