1996 32¢ Gila Trout
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
At one time the Gila trout could be found throughout the rivers and tributary streams of New Mexico and Arizona. However, dams, logging, stream channeling, and road building radically altered the trout’s native waters, and by the 1960s the species had disappeared from the Arizona region. In addition, water degradation, heavy fishing, and hybridization with other trout species had led to a steady decline in the New Mexico population.
In 1978 a recovery plan that confined populations to their native streams was implemented. The outcome was less successful than anticipated – less than 10,000 fish survived, and many were stunted due to overcrowding and insufficient food sources. Fortunately, breeding populations in the Gila Wilderness Area formed a strong enough base to be used in reintroduction.
Today, recovery efforts focus on creating “refuges” within streams. This is accomplished by removing non-native trout from selected areas, erecting barriers to prevent their return, and then restocking the waters with Gila trout. Through these efforts, populations have been restored in designated areas in both New Mexico and Arizona. As conservationists continue to rehabilitate habitats and stock larger streams, it is hoped that the Gila trout can be “downlisted” to Threatened.