Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 15, 2018

Contact: Brian Segee, (805) 750-8852,

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration's Baseless Decision Not to Protect Endangered Fish in Arizona, New Mexico

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to provide Endangered Species Act protection to the roundtail chub, a large minnow native to Arizona and New Mexico.

The Fish and Wildlife Service first identified the roundtail as needing protection in 1982, but it took the Center filing a petition and two lawsuits before the agency finally proposed it for protection in 2015. 

The Trump administration in April 2017 baselessly withdrew the agency’s proposal to protect the fish, claiming that while its population wasn’t secure, the fish should be not be considered a single species but combined with two other equally threatened species.

“The Trump administration is twisting itself into knots, doing whatever it can to avoid saving the roundtail chub,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center. “Instead of recognizing the threats that are facing this species, which was once so plentiful, they’ve ignored the facts and science in order to deny protection to these fish.”

The chub faces threats including habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change. The Service’s withdrawal of the proposed rule failed to find that any of the threats to these native fish have abated.

Instead the Service found that the lower Colorado River basin population of roundtail chub, headwater chub and endangered Gila chub are not separate species, but rather a single species, the roundtail chub. Rather than analyze whether the combined species still needed protection, the Service withdrew protection without explanation. 

“The decision not to protect this fish was driven by politics, not science. Federal officials decided opposition from the Arizona Game and Fish Department mattered more than saving these clearly imperiled creatures, which are at high risk of extinction,” Segee said.  “Like most of the Southwest’s native fish, the roundtail chub desperately needs endangered species protection to have any chance at survival.”

The roundtail chub occurs in Arizona and a small portion of New Mexico. Although it was historically found throughout the lower Colorado River basin, chubs have been extirpated from at least half of their historic range and reduced to a fraction of their historic abundance. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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