Montana Trout Unlimited Offering Rewards For "Bucket Biologists" - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Montana Trout Unlimited Offering Rewards For "Bucket Biologists"

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Montana Trout Unlimited is teaming up with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to supplement rewards for so-called "bucket biologists".

Montana trout unlimited is working with F.W.P. to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction of people who illegally put non-native fish in Montana's watersheds.

F.W.P. spokesman Ron Aasheim explained why this is so important to local conservation efforts.

"It is a serious, serious problem in Montana," said Aasheim. "When you introduce species where they have not been and they compete with that provide the spectacular opportunities we have."

Aasheim said fish introduced to an area can compete with, breed with or prey on established fish, spread disease and hurt water quality.

Montana Trout Unlimited's conservation director Mark Aagenes said they are tired of seeing native habitats in jeopardy.

"Bass were illegally introduced into Seeley Lake in western Montana," said Aagenes. "That was really the straw that broke camel's back.  We felt that there's been enough illegal introductions around Montana."

Aagenes said this isn't the first time Montana Trout Unlimited has worked with F.W.P. on something like this.

"We've certainly partnered with fish wildlife and parks on the exact same type of thing," said Aagenes. "But nothing nearly as big or as broad this represents."

Aasheim said even with those localized efforts, they don't convict many people of introducing non-native fish.

"That's the very reason why this group is so interested in increasing the reward so people will step up and turn in some of these folks," said Aasheim.

Aasheim said there will be an anglers' forum in Helena Thursday to discuss how the reward program will work.

Aasheim said more than 250 rivers and lakes in Montana have non-native northern pike, walleye, sunfish and carp, among others.

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