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Science and Innovations

Study: Razorback Sucker on Road to Recovery

Melanie Fischer / USFWS

A new scientific report says the razorback sucker is on its way to recovery. The report recommends “downlisting” the Colorado River fish from endangered to threatened. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The razorback sucker was listed as endangered in 1991, when only a few hundred remained in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin. Now, the population has rebounded to 50 thousand adult fish.

Tom Chart of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that’s mainly due to the success of hatchery programs which raise fish and release them into the wild. "They’re spread now throughout the rivers or the reservoirs, they’re spawning in multiple locations, and what we’ve determined over the course of 30 years is that we have a population down in Lake Mead that is self-sustaining," Chart says. 

Chart cautions biologists need to continue management efforts to improve river habitat and control nonnative species that prey on the razorback sucker.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed downlisting sometime next year.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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