HAMILTON,Mont. -

Montana wildlife officials intend to use wild westslope cutthroat trout from the Bitterroot Valley as part of a plan to keep hatchery fish more able to fend for themselves once released into the wild.
    
Lee Nelson of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says that the Bitterroot Valley cutthroats will be used starting next year.
    
Nelson says that over time, generations of hatchery fish lose skills they need to survive in the wild and instead become good at surviving in hatcheries.
    
He says bringing in fresh genes from wild fish helps prevent that from happening.
    
If disease and genetic testing fail to turn up something to stop the project, biologists plan to use cutthroats from Three Mile Creek, the South Fork of Willow Creek and Tamarack Creek.