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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Warmwater Native Fish Saved from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire

Region 2, December 19, 2012
Crews collect loach minnow and spikedace from the Gila River in New Mexico prior to ash flows from the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire
Crews collect loach minnow and spikedace from the Gila River in New Mexico prior to ash flows from the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire - Photo Credit: n/a

During the month of May, lightning strikes caused the Whitewater-Baldy Complex wildfire (the largest in New Mexico’s history) in the Gila Wilderness of southwest New Mexico. Wildfires can create extremely hazardous conditions, not only for wildlife and habitat, but for aquatic species as well. In response to the potential population loss caused by the fire, members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish combined efforts to salvage native fish species from the affected area. Throughout the month of June numerous trips were conducted to recover more than 350 endangered Gila chub, nearly 200 threatened loach minnow, and more than 250 threatened spikedace. The fish were transported to the Dexter NFHTC in southeast New Mexico and placed in quarantine. Dexter staff will continue to maintain these populations until conditions in the Gila Wilderness are suitable for reintroduction.

Contact Info: joaquin baca, 505 248-6471, joaquin_baca@fws.gov