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In 2004, only an estimated 50 fish remained in the entire Kootenai River. It is now estimated that 40,000-50,000 fish occupy the system. The Kootenai River is the only waterbody in Idaho where burbot are native and in 2019 the Idaho Fish and Game Commission reopened the fishery.
With the help of state, tribal, international, and federal partners and a state-of-the-art hatchery run by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the return of the burbot fishery signaled a major conservation milestone.