FARGO — Click Content Studios, a division of Forum Communications Company, has started production work on “Yellowstone: A Cutthroat Business.” The documentary will examine the attempt to restore two species of native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone cutthroat are native only to Yellowstone Lake and the Yellowstone River watershed. Since the discovery of predatory lake trout in the lake in 1994, the cutthroat population has plummeted. Biologists are now employing several innovative strategies to reduce and ultimately control the lake trout population so cutthroat numbers can rebound.
Westslope cutthroat are also under siege, but not by predators. Cutthroats spawn in the spring, just like invasive rainbow trout. This leads to hybridization and a gradual dilution of cutthroat genetics. But the discovery of an isolated population of pure-strain westslope cutthroats is allowing scientists to restore their numbers — one stream section at a time.
The film, produced in collaboration with Koel Communications of Pillager, Minn., will follow fisheries crews from the expansive Yellowstone Lake to the park’s remote streams to the breathtaking Bridger Wilderness — the most isolated region in the continental U.S. and accessible only on foot or by horseback. Viewers will see how crews live off the land while working in the rugged backcountry.
Click Managing Director Jim Manney said the documentary will illustrate how deep dedication allows talented people to solve complex environmental problems — whether those problems occur naturally or are caused by human intervention.
“We’re excited to share this example of native species restoration, and hope that it brings more awareness to the plight of other rare and endangered wildlife,” Manney said. “We are also grateful to the National Park Service and all of the other project participants who are allowing us to tell their story in one of the world’s most spectacular backdrops.”
The restoration work is led by fisheries scientists with the National Park Service and relies on strong partnerships with graduate students at Montana State University, Yellowstone Forever, George B. Storer Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and volunteer anglers and conservationists.
“Yellowstone: A Cutthroat Business” is scheduled to be released in summer 2020.