ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Biologists are getting help from a team of mules as they return thousands of threatened Gila trout to their home streams in southwestern New Mexico.
The pack train traveled a few miles into the Gila National Forest wilderness this week to release the first batch of 1,000 fish. The remaining 3,000 will be packed in on Monday.
Native to New Mexico and Arizona, the Gila trout has survived decades of isolation, drought and now wildfire. The fish were rescued earlier this year from the post-fire ravages of the Whitewater-Baldy blaze, the largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history.
Along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and Texas, teams of biologists are also releasing hundreds of thousands of endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow.
The new minnows in New Mexico will bolster a population that has been hammered by back-to-back years of drought.