WASHINGTON, DC, July 26, 2004 (ENS)
The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service has announced it will
continue protecting the Lost River sucker and
shortnose sucker under the Endangered Species
Act as it reviews the condition of the two
The two fish are endemic to the Upper
Klamath Basin - an area that has been the
subject of heated disputes over water use.
Both species live in lakes and reservoirs
most of the year and migrate upstream in the
spring to spawn.
In 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Service
diverted water from the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation's Klamath Irrigation Project in
order to protect endangered suckers.
The decision prompted angry protests by
The Bush administration decided in 2002 not
to enforce the plan, a move that appeased the
farmers, but drew sharp criticism from
environmentalists and tribal groups.
Both suckers were listed as "endangered"
under the Endangered Species Act in 1988 -
overfishing, habitat loss and poor water
quality are blamed for the decline.
The Lost River sucker can reach 39 inches
long and can live at least 45 years; the
shortnose sucker can reach 20 inches in length
and live as long as 33 years.
The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision
included the rejection of a petition from
private property owners to remove the two
species from the endangered species list.
The agency said the petition does not
provide substantial new information to warrant
The study, known as a five year review
under the Endangered Species Act, will be a
valuable management activity, according to
agency officials, and will help them to
understand more precisely the condition of the
two species and determine what is needed to
assure their recovery.
"Populations of the Klamath suckers
declined significantly in the last decade. But
potentially important restoration measures are
under way that create optimism that the
Klamath suckers can be restored to good
health," said Steve Thompson, manager of the
Service's California/Nevada Operations Office.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is a
cooperative partner in federally funded
efforts to improve the status of the two
species while maintaining the other important
community interests throughout the Basin.
Thompson said the agency is "is determined
to restore the Klamath sucker population to a
viable condition, while meeting the needs of
the tribes that rely on the sucker for
important cultural benefits and on the local