Fish have been an important component of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem since the ice ages. Streams originating high in the mountains feed rivers that flow to the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Hudson’s Bay, allowing fish species from other regions to congregate here. They provide food for a variety of mammals and fish and have been sought as food by American Indian tribes as well as today’s anglers.
There are more than 37 species of fish in the region, some of which were introduced as humans sought to increase recreational opportunities here. This has led to pressure on some native species through competition with introduced fish. In addition, as global climate change alters streamflows and water temperatures, some species are facing fragmentation of their habitats.
Currently, efforts are aimed at preserving native fish such as bull trout through removal of introduced aquatic species and protection of waters from invasive organisms such as Quagga mussels and purple loosestrife. Research into the success of these efforts will be ongoing as the fight to save native fish species continues.