MONTANA — According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, an angler caught a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19 while fishing on the Gardner River at its confluence with the Yellowstone River, just outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park released a statement following the discovery of nonnative smallmouth bass in the Gardner River.
“Smallmouth bass are an invasive predatory species that will threaten our wild and native trout populations if they become established in the upper Yellowstone River,” Lead Fisheries Biologist Todd Koel said.
Koel said that anglers will be required to kill and report any smallmouth bass caught in Yellowstone National Park when the fishing season opens in the park Memorial Day weekend.
Anglers have previously reported finding smallmouth bass in two locations on the upper Yellowstone River in the past seven years: Two smallmouth bass were caught at the Highway 89 bridge downstream of Livingston, and one near Emigrant. One smallmouth bass has also been found in the Shields River, a tributary to the Yellowstone east of Livingston.
“Over the next few weeks, biologists will monitor these rivers closely to gauge the possible extent of the invasion. Our goal is to protect native fish populations and natural ecosystems. We will do everything in our power to prevent the establishment of smallmouth bass in the park and prevent them from preying on and displacing trout and other native fish,” Koel said.
It is unclear how the bass arrived in the Gardner.