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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

April 26, 2007

Contact:  Debbie Felker, Recovery Program 303-969-7322, ext. 227

                Randy Hampton, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 970-255-6162255-

NONNATIVE FISH MANAGEMENT
RESUMES IN EFFORT TO RECOVER ENDANGERED FISH

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Recovery Program) is continuing efforts to manage smallmouth bass and northern pike in sections of the Green, Yampa, White, and Colorado rivers in the states of Utah and Colorado. Work has begun in river sections where scientific evidence shows that these nonnative fish species are impeding recovery of the endangered humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker.  

Depending on the river reach, biologists will remove smallmouth bass and/or northern pike.  In Utah, nonnative fish removed from the river will not be relocated to other waters. Utah adheres to fish disease control rules and policies that prohibit fish transfers between water bodies without prior health certification.  Certifying fish populations in large rivers as disease free is nearly impossible.    

Three of the Recovery Program’s partners – the states of Utah and Colorado and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – will conduct this year’s work.  Biologists from Colorado State University will also participate.   

“Recovery goals for the endangered fishes identify nonnative fish as a primary threat to the continued existence or reestablishment of self-sustaining endangered fish populations,” said Recovery Program Director Bob Muth.  “Nonnative fish compete for food and space in the river, and some species are known to prey upon endangered and other native fish. The overall goal of nonnative fish management is to attain and maintain fish communities where populations of endangered and other native fish species can persist and thrive, and the recovery goals can be achieved.”  Active removal is one of several nonnative fish management actions.  Other actions include: screening reservoir outlets and berming ponds to prevent nonnative fish from entering the river where they could interact with endangered fishes; working with the states to regulate stocking of nonnative fishes and to change bag and possession limits to increase harvest of the nonnative fish species of greatest concern; and studying the sources of nonnative fish to help determine the most cost-effective and efficient methods to prevent them from entering habitats occupied by endangered fish. 

“All of our management actions involve the active support of Recovery Program partners, including state and federal fish and wildlife agencies,” Muth said.  “We recognize that these agencies have dual responsibilities to conserve listed and other native species while providing for sportfishing opportunities. We work closely to support their respective missions while we work cooperatively to recover the endangered fishes.” 

Established in 1988, the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program is a voluntary, cooperative program whose purpose is to recover the endangered fishes while water development proceeds in accordance with federal and state laws and interstate compacts.  For more information, call 303-969-7322, ext. 227 or visit the Recovery Program’s website: coloradoriverrecovery.fws.gov.                      

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