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Roundtail chub won’t receive endangered species protection

A grey-brown fish swims in an empty tank
Matthew Patterson
Roundtail chub

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that a Colorado River fish called the roundtail chub will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, its status as a species has been debated for years.

The roundtail chub is a silvery minnow that lives in Arizona and New Mexico. It’s been flagged for federal protection since the eighties due to threats from dams, development, and exotic species.

But the Fish and Wildlife Service says conservation efforts have stabilized the population.

That’s the result of a review ordered one year ago by a federal judge. The agency had halted its investigation into the roundtail chub after a committee of experts decided it was the same species as two other Colorado River fish, the Gila chub and the headwater chub. Some fish biologists disputed that finding, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit to force the review to continue.

The findings, published today in the Federal Register, say the roundtail chub is not at risk of extinction, and the Gila chub should be considered for delisting since it’s thought to be the same species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to submit any relevant information about the Gila chub's proposed delisting.

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.