Endangered fish found only in Utah Lake to be reclassified as threatened

Daily Herald –

The June sucker, a fish native only to Utah Valley, will likely be removed from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list and be reclassified as threatened, a significant step for a species whose total population dipped to as low as 300 two decades ago.

The grey, marble-eyed fish is only found in Utah Lake and its water sources, which include Provo River and Hobble Creek. According to Mike Mills, coordinator of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program (JSRIP), the fish was negatively impacted by the introduction of non-native species, such as the common carp, a “habitat destroyer” that eats the vegetation June suckers rely on to hide from predators.

“The Utah Lake fish community has been off-balance,” said Mills. “It’s been dominated by common carp and really lacked other species.”

Through a variety of conservation and population revamping efforts, including habitat restoration and stocking Utah Lake with hatchery-born fish, the June sucker population has rebounded since the late 1990s and is now “in the thousands,” Mills said.

On Thursday, representatives from JSRIP, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, Provo River Water Users Association and other federal, state and city agencies celebrated the reclassification by releasing a hundred adult June sucker into Utah Lake.

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