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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


September 1, 2005 

Contacts:          Wade Fredenberg 406-758-6872  (available 9/2)
                           Lynn Kaeding 406-582-0717  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Review Status of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout 

Latest scientific and commercial information requested 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it is initiating a status review of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout to determine whether or not to propose listing the species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  The Service intends to complete this 12-month review by the Court-ordered due date of February 14, 2006. 

 To assist in this review, the Service is seeking the latest scientific and commercial information from the public, government agencies, tribes, industry and the scientific and conservation communities.  Comments will be received until October 31, 2005.

 “During this status review, the Service will evaluate existing and all new information then make a decision on whether there is sufficient risk to the species to proceed with a listing proposal,” said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. 

 In February of 2001, the Service found that a petition to list the Yellowstone cutthroat trout did not present substantial information indicating that listing this species as threatened or endangered was warranted under the Endangered Species Act.   Subsequent to this finding, several environmental organizations filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for Colorado alleging the Service had used the wrong procedures and standards to assess the petition as part of the 90-day finding process.  The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the Service to complete a status review of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout by February 14, 2006.

 Comments should be submitted to Yellowstone Cutthroat Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 780 Creston Hatchery Road, Kalispell, Montana 59901-8239.  Comments also may be submitted electronically to:

 The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is typically olive to brown along the back, often with a distinct yellowish or beige cast along the sides and belly and a rose or reddish cast on the opercle.  The typical orange or red cutthroat “slashes” are usually distinct under the lower jaw.  It is generally distinguishable from other inland subspecies of cutthroat trout by the particular pattern of black spots that appear on the body.  There are two spotting variants; the typical Yellowstone form having large, round black spots more densely distributed on the rear and dorsal portions of the fish and the Snake River fine-spotted variant that has profuse black spotting similar to specks of pepper.   

 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. 

 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. 

 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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 -FWS -

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