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Park confirms Brookie sabotage; reiterates mistakes

11:02 AM, Apr 16, 2011   |    comments
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Officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have a better idea why rainbow trout reappeared in Lynn Camp Prong.

The non-native rainbow trout were supposed to be cleared from the stream in 2008 to make way for native brook trout.

Last year, the park service discovered adult rainbow trout and suspected someone put more rainbow trout back in the prong.  Friday night, park officials confirmed that story and released new details on how they believe the fish were reintroduced to the treated stream.

"They [the suspects] went down, caught these rainbow trout in Little River, put them in coolers, put them on horses and packed them up about two miles and released them," said GSMNP Fisheries Biologist Steve Moore.

Moore also reiterated comments made in July 2010 regarding an oversight by the park when clearing rainbow trout from Lynn Camp.

According to Moore, bears started getting aggressive around fish cages in the program's earlier stages and one small area of stream was not treated.

"I got very concerned for people's safety and forgot that there was a 60 meter tributary stream that we didn't treat," the biologist explained.

The park service will start back at square one with the stream's restoration project.  If caught, the suspect who put rainbow trout back in the stream could face large fines.  The investigation is still ongoing into exactly who sabotaged the project.

So far, the Lynn Camp Prong project has cost more than $300,000 and covers more than 8 miles of stream.  All together, the park service has reintroduced brook trout into nearly 30 miles of stream at a cost of more than $1,000,000.

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