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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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

April 14, 2000
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408
Lynn Kaeding (MT) 406-582-0717
Steve Duke (ID) 208-378-5345
Phil Carroll (OR) 503-231-6179
Judith DeLaVergne 509-665-3510


The Westslope cutthroat trout, a brightly colored fish found primarily in Montana and Idaho and parts of Oregon and Washington, does not warrant listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

American Wildlands, Clearwater Biodiversity Project, Idaho Watersheds Project, Inc., Montana Environmental Information Center, Trout Unlimited's Madison-Gallatin Chapter, and other groups petitioned the Service to list the westslope cutthroat trout as threatened throughout its range in 1997. The Service found that the petition contained substantial information to warrant a comprehensive review of the species’ status.

As a result of the subsequent status review, however, biologists found the species is not threatened. The fish currently inhabits more than 23,000 linear miles of habitat in 4,275 tributaries or streams located in 12 major drainages and 62 component watersheds in the Columbia, Missouri, and Saskatchewan River basins. In addition, it inhabits six lakes in Idaho and Washington and at least 20 lakes in Glacier National Park, Montana.

"Although the number of westslope cutthroat trout stocks in large rivers and lakes and their principal tributaries has declined from historic levels, the Service found that viable, self-sustaining westslope cutthroat trout stocks remain widely distributed throughout the historic range of the subspecies, most notably in headwater areas," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service regional director for the Mountain-Prairie Region.

Most of the habitat for westslope cutthroat trout lies on lands administered by Federal agencies, especially the U.S. Forest Service. Moreover, many of the strongholds for westslope cutthroat trout occur within roadless or wilderness areas or national parks, all of which afford considerable protection to the fish.

In addition, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and State game and fish departments reported more than 700 ongoing projects directed toward the protection and restoration of westslope cutthroat trout and their habitats.

The westslope cutthroat trout is bright yellow, orange, and red. It is generally distinguishable from other inland subspecies of cutthroat trout by the particular pattern of black spots that appear on the body. Westslope cutthroat trout were found historically in streams and lakes in the upper Columbia River basin of western Montana, northern and central Idaho, and southern British Columbia and Alberta; the upper Missouri River basin of Montana and northwest Wyoming; the upper South Saskatchewan River basin of Montana and Alberta; the Methow River and Lake Chelan drainages in Washington; and the John Day River drainage in Oregon.

The Service published its finding in today’s Federal Register.

For more information concerning the westslope cutthroat trout including Q&As, a fact sheet, and chronology, please visit our web site at:

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 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 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.

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