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FWP will investigate the drop in fish populations in the Jefferson River system further



Bozeman, Montana – The Ruby, Beaverhead, and Big Hole rivers combine to form the Jefferson River, and its waters are home to struggling fish. This year, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) started investigating the reason.

“Fish declines and fish health issues that we’ve been seeing in the Jefferson River basin, which includes the Big Hole, the Beaverhead, and the Ruby rivers, and part of what that conversation led to was setting up some pieces to be able to conduct research this coming year into those declines, those fish health issues, things like that,” said FWP spokesman Morgan Jacobsen.

To start that study project, FWP has added more employees and is working with researchers from Montana State University. According to Jacobsen, there will be numerous levels to the soon-to-be-begun research.

“Some of the studies that we’re looking at are fish mortality, cause of fish mortality, fish recruitment, where fish are spawning, and how that’s contributing to mainstem populations and fish health issues overall,” Jacobsen said.

Examining river usage outside of the Jefferson River system will be another facet of this year’s investigation.

“The Madison River also has a component to that where we will be looking at recreational use on the four rivers; so the Beaverhead, the Big Hole, the Ruby, and the Madison rivers,” said Jacobsen. “So that’s some important research that’ll be happening this year. We’ve now got additional staff to help with that, some students in partnership up at Montana State University, and so we’ll be getting started here in the next weeks with that research.”

According to Jacobsen, study teams will start working on the rivers seriously as early as March.

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