MONTROSE, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are working hard to save the rainbow trout in the Gunnison River.

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Scientists have found a group of rainbow trout that are immune to a whirling disease which deforms the fish, and they later die of starvation.

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The scientists are using the immune fish to breed, and then reintroduce their offsprings into the rivers across Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

“The rainbow trout is hugely important to this state,” said one employee.

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“How important? Is there a dollar number?” asked CBS News’ Barry Peterson.

“Fishing in general… it’s estimated over $2 billion to the economy,” he replied.

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Officials say they have seen a three-fold increase in the number of trout.