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Wildlife commissioners pass rules targeting smallmouth bass in Yellowstone River

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Eric Engbretson/USFWS
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Montana’s Fish & Wildlife Commission on Tuesday adopted rules to try and prevent an invasive fish species from finding a home in the upper Yellowstone River.

The rule requires anglers to report and kill smallmouth bass caught on a section of the Yellowstone River from the park boundary to the Springdale fishing access site about 20 miles east of Livingston.

Fisheries administrator Dr. Eileen Ryce says smallmouth bass could be detrimental to Yellowstone cutthroat and other native fish species.

“Relying on angler harvest with mandatory reporting can be a very cost effective tool for potentially controlling the species as well as identifying preferred habitat and locations,” she said.

In February, an angler caught a small mouth bass just outside of Yellowstone National Park while fishing where the Gardner River meets the Yellowstone River, about 30 miles upstream from where another smallmouth bass was reportedly caught on the Yellowstone River near Emigrant.

The report-and-kill rule in place on the Yellowstone River also applies to the entirety of the Shields River, a tributary east of Livingston.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.