By Michael Abeyta

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The official state fish of Colorado was thought to be lost forever but now the greenback cutthroat trout is making a comeback.

“These fish are actually progeny of ones we took from the wild,” said Josh Nehring a fisheries biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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Greenback cutthroat trout are native to Colorado. They were celebrated at a party in Colorado Springs on Thursday.

“They are specifically native to the South Platte River drainage so up north. South Park and then down into Denver,” said Aquatic biologist Cory Noble.

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Things haven’t always been good for these fish. Twenty years ago they were thought to be extinct. That is until a group of them were found 60 miles away from their natural habitat in Colorado Springs.

“The only fish left in the state or left in the world that were pure greenback cutthroat trout were here in Bear Creek,” said Noble.

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The belief is that their genetic line was brought down to the Pikes Peak region in the 1800s.

“There was a gentleman who was trying to run a hotel and a stable there to take people up to the summit and it’s believed that is where these fish were originally stocked to,” said Noble.

They were rediscovered in the 1990s and since 2010 CPW has been breeding them.

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“We’re using them to repopulate throughout the state,” said Noble.

These fish are the offspring of the original group that was found in Bear Creek. They are too old to breed so they are retiring back home in Colorado Springs so that the general public can come see these ultimate survivors.

“It’s the perfect spot. We have the display right here and we have Bear Creek right behind us,” said Nehring.

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The population in Bear Creek is pretty strong but if you don’t want to have to hike to go see them, you can stop by the Bear Creek Nature Center and see the greenback cutthroat trout.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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