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KUSA - By studying DNA, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found the state's "true" native trout.

Their decline occurred because of of pollution, overfishing and stocking of native and non-native species of trout.

A genetic study in 2012 was largely based on DNA samples taken as far back as 150 years ago that were stored in museums around the country.

The samples were compared with DNA of modern-day cutthroat trout that were collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife Research Scientist Kevin Rogers.

"This is a conservation genetics success story," said CU-Boulder Senior Research Associate Jessica Metcalf of the BioFrontiers Institute. "We were able to use historical specimens to find out something quite novel about cutthroat trout biodiversity that has resulted in a management action. We are not just bringing a native species back to its historic range, but the greenback cutthroat trout, our Colorado state fish. I would have never imagined this outcome when we started our research in 2001."

Now, roughly 1,200 greenback cutthroat fingerlings reared in federal and state hatcheries in Colorado were stocked into Zimmerman Lake.

"This is a terrific example of how a team made up of different groups and agencies can pool their resources and do something very significant for biodiversity," said Metcalf.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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