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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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

February 23, 2001
Contacts: Lynn Kaeding 406-582-0717
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Will Not Be Considered for Listing
Under the Endangered Species Act

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that a petition to list the Yellowstone cutthroat trout as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act does not provide substantial biological information to indicate that a listing may be warranted at this time.

The Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Montana Ecosystems Defense Council, and Mr. George Wuerthner petitioned the Service in 1998 to list the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, a brightly colored fish found primarily in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, as threatened throughout its range. The petition and finding also include the finespotted Snake River cutthroat trout to be a variation of the same subspecies.

Service biologists found that Yellowstone cutthroat trout currently inhabit approximately 4,700 miles of stream in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and approximately 1,000 miles of stream in Yellowstone National Park. In addition, numerous stocks of Yellowstone cutthroat trout inhabit Yellowstone Lake in the park. Each of the principal state and Federal agencies responsible for Yellowstone cutthroat trout management has a long history of working to conserve the subspecies of trout.

"Although the number of Yellowstone cutthroat trout stocks in large rivers has declined from historic levels, the Service found that viable, self-sustaining Yellowstone cutthroat trout stocks remain widely distributed throughout the historic range of the subspecies." said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service regional director for the Mountain-Prairie Region.

Most of the habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout lies on lands administered by Federal agencies, especially the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service. Moreover, many of the strongholds for Yellowstone cutthroat trout occur within roadless or wilderness areas or Yellowstone National Park, 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 report approximately 100 ongoing projects directed toward the protection and restoration of Yellowstone cutthroat trout and their habitats.

The Yellowstone 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 appears on the fish’s body. The historic range of Yellowstone cutthroat trout generally consists of the waters of the Snake River drainage (Columbia River basin) upstream from Shoshone Falls, Idaho, and those of the Yellowstone River drainage (Missouri River basin) upstream from and including the Tongue River, in eastern Montana. Historic range in the Yellowstone River drainage thus includes large regions of Wyoming and Montana, whereas that of the Snake River drainage includes large regions of Wyoming and Idaho and small parts of Utah and Nevada. Today, various Yellowstone cutthroat trout stocks remain in each of those major river drainages in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Nevada.

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

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 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 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.

Note to editors:  For more information about the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, the 90-day findins, and ongoing conservation activities, please visit the Service's web site at

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