The Trump administration is proposing to reclassify the humpback chub’s status under the Endangered Species Act from endangered to threatened. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, a recent assessment found the fish no longer faces immediate extinction.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says recovery efforts have stabilized all five populations of the humpback chub. According to the agency, the removal of non-native predators, restoration of river flows, and the reintroduction of some chub to new locations have allowed their numbers to reach about 19,000 adults up from about 9,000 two decades ago.
"It’s still a species that is on the Endangered Species List. It is still a species that is at risk of extinction, but what it does signal and signify is progress towards recovery … We really felt like the science supported reclassification," says Tom Chart, who directs the agency’s Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.
The Center for Biological Diversity, however, says the humpback chub isn’t yet recovered, and the populations haven’t reached viable levels listed in the federal recovery plan. The group says climate change, water overuse and invasive species still threaten the chub. They also worry that two dam proposals on the Little Colorado River could destroy the fish’s primary habitat.
A public comment period is open until March 23rd.
The humpback chub was classified as endangered in 1967 and the recovery program began in 1988. The fish are native to the Colorado River and only found in Arizona, Utah and Colorado.