"AMALIA, N.M. — Biologist Bryan Bakevich unscrewed the top of a plastic bucket and removed a Rio Grande cutthroat trout that squirmed from his grasp and plopped onto the grassy bank of Middle Ponil Creek.
“He wants to go home,” Bakevich said, easing the fish into the chilly, narrow stream — the final stop on a three-month, 750-mile (1,207-kilometer) odyssey for this cutthroat and 107 others plucked in June from another stream in mountainous northern New Mexico.
The state’s largest wildfire on record had roared perilously close to their previous home, torching trees and undergrowth on nearby slopes. Summer monsoon season was approaching, and heavy rains could sweep ashy muck into the creek, clogging fish gills and smothering gravel bottoms where they feed and spawn.
State and federal crews rushed to the rescue, using electrofishing gear to stun and net as many cutthroat as possible. They were trucked south to Las Cruces and kept in tanks at New Mexico State University until Middle Ponil Creek was readied to host them."
John Flesher and Brittany Peterson report for the Associated Press September 21, 2022.