Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 17, 2015

Contact: Tierra Curry (928) 522-3681,

Oregon Chub Declared First Fish Recovered by Endangered Species Act

Critical Habitat Protections Key in Preventing Extinction of Rare Minnow  

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing 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 eight populations in 1993 to more than 140,000 fish in 80 populations today. The Oregon chub is the first fish species ever to be declared recovered from the federal list of endangered species.

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

“Endangered Species Act protection with adequate recovery funding is the most effective tool available to save species from extinction,” said Tierra Curry, a 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 listing’s followed up with funding and on-the- ground action.”

The Oregon chub was protected in 1993, received a scientific recovery plan in 1998, and had its critical habitat protected in 2010; all three of these steps were critical to putting it on the road to recovery. The Service will continue to monitor the fish for nine years to make sure populations remain stable.

“Wildlife are only put on the endangered species list when they’re in serious trouble, so it takes time to bring them back to health,” Curry said. “For the chub that process took 22 years. For the Florida panther, it’s expected to take until 2085. As a nation, we need to make endangered species recovery funding a priority so that more plants and animals can join the chub on the list of successfully recovered species.”

Dan Ashe, the head of Fish and Wildlife, is holding a press conference at the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday to announce the chub’s recovery in advance of official publication in the Federal Register. The Service has praised the successful collaboration between state, federal, tribal and nonprofit agencies to recover the fish.

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, and is preyed upon by herons, frogs and larger fish.

Protecting the chub’s imperiled wetland habitat provides flood control, improves water quality, and also helps protect habitat for declining amphibians and other sensitive species. The Willamette Valley has lost an estimated 40 percent to 90 percent of its original wetlands due to urbanization, agriculture, silviculture and flood-control projects.

Globally, freshwater species are going extinct at more than 1,000 times the natural background rate due to habitat degradation, dams, pollution, invasive species, water demand and global climate change.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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