A Discussion of the Ecological Impacts of Trout Stocking and a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Stocking Trout in Pennsylvania’s Class A Wild Trout Streams

Senior Capstone Experience by Willie Cosner ’21

Submitted to the Departments of Economics and Environmental Science

Advised by Dr. Brian Scott

Description: Trout stocking has been a means to supplement ailing freshwater systems and provide greater recreational opportunities for anglers. From this practice of stocking, non-native brown and rainbow trout have reproduced and spread throughout the many freshwater streams of Pennsylvania, building a population of non-native wild trout. Along with the native brook trout, additional hatchery trout are added to the streams these non-native wild trout inhabit in the hopes of providing more fish for anglers to catch and greater economic benefit to the state of Pennsylvania. Stocking hatchery trout when wild trout are already present in bodies of water has been shown to reduce the wild trout population and potentially reduce angler catch rates. Using the literature, I found stocking trout has numerous harmful ecological impacts on native and wild trout as well as the ecosystems they inhabit. I calculated the results of eliminating stocking in twelve “Class A”, wild trout streams that are currently being stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). I found that once we stop stocking these twelve sections, there will be more trout biomass in these streams from wild trout populations than from previously stocked and wild trout populations combined. While I found that there would be more trout in these streams if we eliminated stocking, I calculated that there would be less economic benefit for the state of Pennsylvania if stocking were eliminated.

Read Willie’s SCE below:

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