Biologists have started removing northern pike fish from sections of the Yampa River because Division of Wildlife officials say the pike prey on endangered fish that live in the river.
The fish will be removed from sections between Hayden and Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument and placed in local fishing ponds.
The endangered fish that the northern pike eat include the humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker.
Division of Wildlife officials believe the predatory northern pike are competing with the smaller endangered species for food and eating their young.
The DOW is overseeing the project along with the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and the Yampa River Basin Partnership.
"These data will help us determine whether or not removing northern pike during their spawning season has the desired effect of reducing or eliminating threats to the endangered species and other native fish," said Tom Nesler, DOW native fish conservation program manager.
A report released by the Yampa River Basin Partnership says northern pike accidentally became established in the Yampa River in the 1980s after they had been introduced into Elkhead Reservoir in 1977 and escaped into the Yampa River via Elkhead Creek.
Northern pike is not a native species to the Yampa River.
"The Yampa River Basin fully supports this effort," said Yampa River Basin Partnership Chairman and Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton. "This project will help biologists better understand how to improve conditions in the river for the endangered fish. The partnership is extremely concerned with the health of the Yampa River system and appreciates the work being done to protect it."