Friday, August 05, 2016
Lawsuit Filed to Protect Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout as 'Endangered'
The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its denial of Endangered Species Act protection to the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a cold-water fish of the headwaters of the Rio Grande, Pecos and Canadian rivers in Colorado and New Mexico. In response to a 1998 Center petition and two lawsuits, the agency determined in 2008 that the rare trout warranted protection due to habitat loss, introduction of nonnative trout, climate change and other factors. But in 2014 the Service reversed course and denied protection to the species. “The Rio Grande cutthroat trout survives only in a few isolated headwaters,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “Without help from the Endangered Species Act, this fish will disappear forever.” Characterized by deep crimson slashes on its throat, the fish once swam throughout the Rio Grande, Pecos and Canadian river basins from Colorado to southern New Mexico. It is now limited to a small number of tiny headwater streams in only 11 percent of its historic range. Today’s lawsuit not only seeks endangered status for the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, but also challenges a new Fish and Wildlife Service policy of disregarding historic range and instead assessing species’ viability only within their current range, regardless of how diminished that might be from historic levels...more