That’s Bull!

Swimming bull trout
May 23, 2016

This spring, seventh graders from the Missoula International School, along with students from C.S. Porter Middle School and Bonner School, joined the Clark Fork Coalition for the 2016 Kids River Expo. The Kids River Expo is an all-day watershed education event that took place on property owned by Five Valleys Land Trust at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Clark Fork River. We partnered with Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Watershed Consulting, Montana Conservation Corps, Missoula Valley Water Quality District, and the University of Montana Broader Impacts Group to engage students in hands-on watershed science and technology.

This blog installment features these students’ ideas, words, and experiences. As a class, Missoula International School’s seventh graders composed and edited this month’s entry with a big message about taking care of our bull trout. We are so grateful to have this exceptional group of river stewards in our community!

MIS Students

Written by – Avery, Birch, Collin, Colton, Diego, Elijah, Georgia, Gilly, Grace, Julian, Nina, Oliver, Sage, Solomon

When we were working with the Clark Fork Coalition, we played a game where we were bull trout experiencing the challenges of their migrations. As we circulated through the many migration barriers bull trout encounter in their migration: pollution, dams, and fishermen, we found it very challenging. By the time we got to the last barrier, a water turbine, only 1 of us had survived though we started with a group of 8. We all know people who have been the fishermen on this challenging journey, and who have caught and released bull trout. The barriers to bull trout are no joke!

Bull TroutBull trout are threatened and persisting close to the endangered species list. They migrate to spawn after the temperature in the water falls below 48 degrees F. Usually, they spawn in creeks or rivers with gravel or pebbles with a gradual streambed slope, and barriers to these spawning reaches spells big trouble for this species. Bull trout are also very sensitive to increased temperature and bad water quality. Young bull trout eat nymphs and other insects. As mature fish (about 5-7 years of age) they migrate to large river habitats where they eat smaller fish. A bull trout’s lifespan is about 12 year. During this life they might face the migration obstacles many times, make their survival even more perilous.

Clark Fork RiverBull trout are having difficulties living in the rivers of Montana, we need help to save them. Have you ever seen those rock barriers in rivers and creeks? They block the migration pathways to spawning and rearing habitats for bull trout. It would help the lives of bull trout if we could knock down those barriers. We all love to fish, but if you accidentally catch a bull trout we would like you to keep in mind that it still affects them if they are handled incorrectly. To learn more about how to correctly handle bull trout when caught check out this article. If we help protect the ecosystem and the environmental needs of the bull trout, we not only will have healthy and happy bull trout but other fish as well!

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