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Sacramento splittail
The Sacramento Bee, October 5, 2010

Groups, individuals file federal lawsuit over Richardson Grove
By Bill Lindelof

Federal wildlife officials announced today that a Delta fish species does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Sacramento splittail, a native of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2003.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the best available scientific information shows no recent decline in the overall abundance of the minnow. Also, the available information shows no threats that rise to the level of being significant to the splittail population level.

Population data do not show an overall decline, according to a news release. Instead, there are natural fluctuations that show a pattern of successful spawning during years when there is plenty of water and reduced spawning during dry years.

"During flood years, Sacramento splittail can be one of the more abundant fish in the delta," said Dan Castleberry, field supervisor of the Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office said. "Similarly, as you would expect, during drying periods, spawning is reduced, and the abundance of splittail, especially young splittail, can be low."

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year to force it to reconsider the splittail's status.

The center said today that it would challenge the decision.

"It's a pretty outrageous decision, given that the splittail population has crashed in recent years," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the organization.

He said in a news release that the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision was not based on good science or common sense and did not take into account the severe threats to the splittail and its habitat.

Copyright © The Sacramento Bee

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton