Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Colorado
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Colorado Project

Evaluating tiger muskellunge as a multi-purpose management tool: protecting native fish species from multiple conservation threats

July 2022 - June 2026


Participating Agencies

  • Colorado Parks Wildlife

Under the supervision of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Aquatic Research Section, and with specialized equipment and expertise provided by CPW, the Research Associate will implement an evaluation of stocking tiger muskellunge (sterile northern pike and muskellunge hybrids) as a means to disadvantage introduced species (northern pike, smallmouth bass, white sucker), while simultaneously diminishing motivation to illicitly transplant non-native predators that negatively impact native fish species and whole ecosystems. This approach compliments native fish protection efforts in the Yampa and Colorado river basins.One of the biggest threats to the protection and conservation of native fishes in Colorado is the spread of invasive species. The information gained from this project will provide an indication of the efficacy of tiger muskellunge stocking as a management tool in Shadow Mountain and Elkhead reservoirs to combat factors threatening native fishes in Colorado. Tiger muskellunge have the potential to provide several benefits to fisheries and native species (i.e., cutthroat trout, native three-species, mountain whitefish) including:

• Improving conditions for native fish by disadvantaging non-native predators (northern pike and smallmouth bass) that have been illegally introduced, and undesirable species that are spreading in Colorado like white suckers

• A controllable method for disadvantaging nuisance species that is compatible (sterile hybrid) with native fish conservation goals, and discouraging further spread/introduction of non-native predators