Endangered fish headed toward recovery, officials say

Star Tribune –

As far as fish in the West go, the silver-sided humpback chub is one of the strangest-looking, and arguably one of the least known. Most are no longer than an average forearm, and they’re immediately distinguished by the ubiquitous hump on their backs. They have virtually no scales, live to be upwards of 40 years old and have long snouts that overhang their jaws. And they nearly went extinct.

The lowly chub is one of four endangered native species in the Colorado River system. It once ranged from southwestern Wyoming to the Gulf of California and now lives in just five isolated pockets from the Grand Canyon up to central Utah. Officials believe those stable populations are enough to stave off extinction, for now. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on Wednesday reclassifying the fish from endangered to threatened.

“An endangered species is one that is at risk of extinction now, and a threatened one is at risk at some point,” said Thomas Chart, director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. “Our long-term assessment is they demonstrate stability and are not at threat now.”