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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 9, 2001

Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408
Yvette Converse 801-524-5001 ext 135

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE CONCLUDES NO NEED
TO PUT BONNEVILLE CUTTHROAT TROUT ON ENDANGERED LIST

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Bonneville cutthroat trout, a fish found primarily in Utah and parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada in the Bonneville Basin, does not warrant listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

In February 1998, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation petitioned the Service to list the Bonneville cutthroat trout as threatened throughout its range and designate its occupied habitat as critical habitat under the Act. A species is designated as threatened when it is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Although the Service found the petition contained substantial information that warranted further examination of the status of the species, a comprehensive review revealed that there are 291 populations of Bonneville cutthroat trout that currently inhabit 852 miles of stream habitat and 70,059 acres of lake habitat. Biologists also believe they may find Bonneville cutthroat trout populations in streams which have not been recently surveyed or explored. Furthermore, genetic research continues to determine that many populations deemed in the past to be hybrid fish are in fact genetically pure Bonneville cutthroat trout. Overall, the Service found that viable, self-sustaining Bonneville cutthroat trout populations remain widely distributed throughout the historic range of the fish and are being restored or protected where feasible.

Biologists believe Bonneville cutthroat trout historically occupied most of the stream, river and lake systems and their principal tributaries in the Bonneville Basin. Over the past 150 years, the species has experienced a decline due to fishing and timber harvest, dewatering, habitat destruction, and introduction of nonnative fish that competed with the species and gave rise to hybrid populations. Some biologists speculated the Bonneville cutthroat trout was extinct in its pure form by the mid-1900s.

"On-the-ground restoration and enhancement activities conducted by our Federal, State, and Tribal partners have become the cornerstone for Bonneville cutthroat trout conservation," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s regional director for the Mountain-Prairie Region. "Because state wildlife and land management agencies have made these conservation actions fundamental components of agency planning, we expect continued improvements in the status and habitat of this native fish well into the future."

Bonneville cutthroat trout populations are found in all five geographic regions of the Bonneville Basin including: Bear Lake and tributaries, the Bear River drainage (north slope Uinta Mountains, Smith’s Fork, Thomas Fork, Cub, Logan, Little Bear and others), northern Bonneville drainages (Ogden, Weber, Jordan, Provo and Spanish Fork rivers), western Bonneville drainages (Deep Creek mountains, Wheeler Peak, Snake Valley) and southern Bonneville drainages (Sevier, Beaver and Virgin rivers).

The Bonneville cutthroat trout is one of 14 subspecies of cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki native to interior regions of western North America. Cutthroat trout owe their common name to the distinctive red or orange slash that occurs just below both sides of the lower jaw.

Bonneville cutthroat trout generally have large, evenly distributed spots, more evenly distributed on the sides of the body than the Yellowstone subspecies. However, there is a degree of intra-basin variation in physical characteristics. Bonneville cutthroat trout are generally considered dull in color compared to other cutthroat subspecies but still may exhibit bright red, orange and yellow colors.

A notice of the finding on the petition to list the Bonneville cutthroat trout was published today in the Federal Register. More information on the species can be found at http://www.r6.fws.gov/endspp/fish/bct/.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
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