For Immediate Release, February 5, 2014

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Recovery of Oregon Chub Highlights Success of the Endangered Species Act

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Endangered Species Act protections have successfully recovered the Oregon chub, a silvery speckled minnow found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The fish earned protection in 1993 after its populations plummeted due to development of its wetland habitat and predation by introduced sports fish. Federal protection, including protection of some of its most important habitat, allowed the chub’s population to rebound from fewer than 1,000 fish in 1993 to more than 160,000 individuals today.

Oregon chub
Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This photo is available for media use.

“It’s thrilling to see yet another species recover under the Endangered Species Act,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The story of the Oregon chub is a perfect example of how well this law works when we let it.”

The Oregon chub is the first fish species ever to be declared recovered from the federal list of endangered species. The number of populations of the three-inch fish has increased from eight to 80. Today’s proposed rule to remove the chub from the endangered species list opens a public-comment period, after which a final rule will be published. The Service will monitor the fish for nine years to make sure populations remain stable.

The fish was protected in 1993, it got a scientific recovery plan in 1998, and its critical habitat was protected in 2010; all three of these steps have been critical to putting it on the road to recovery.

The Service, in proposing the removal of federal protection for the chub, noted the successful collaboration between state, federal, tribal and nonprofit agencies to recover the fish. Today’s decision was not the result of a petition or lawsuit to strip protections.

“Wildlife are only put on the endangered species list when they’re in serious trouble, so it takes time to address the problems they face and bring them back to health,” Curry said. “For the chub that process took 21 years. For the Florida panther, it’s expected to take until 2085. Saving imperiled wildlife takes time, but Endangered Species Act protection with critical habitat designation remains the most powerful tool we have to save species from extinction.”

The chub lives in tributaries of the Willamette, the Middle Fork Willamette and the Santiam rivers. It was discovered in the early 1900s in the Clackamas River drainage outside Portland. It feeds on insect larvae, including those of mosquitoes.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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