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by James L. Buchal 7/21/04

On July 21, 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services published yet another installment in its ongoing fraud concerning “endangered” suckers in the Klamath Basin. The Service, having been ordered by the federal court to explain why they rejected a petition to remove the suckers from the endangered species list, now claims that the original population estimates that prompted the listing weren’t estimates of the total sucker population at all, just “sucker populations that spawned in the Sprague River”.

Those populations were hammered by a snag fishery that was outlawed the year before the listing, but the Service still pushed for the listing. Contemporaneous documents frankly acknowledge that a primary motivation of the Service was the desire to secure research funds. (Such documents also show that in that more honest time, no one at the Service was concerned that Klamath Project operations were causing significant problems for the suckers.)

As for how the research funds were spent, the Service now claims that the repeated estimates of sucker populations since the listing, showing staggeringly higher populations of suckers, are “unreliable”. The real suckers, U.S. taxpayers, have now funded sixteen years of sucker research, the upshot of which is: “it is not possible to accurately determine the current total abundance of suckers in Upper Klamath Lake or the trend in abundance over the past 15+ years with reliability”.

The lack of “reliable” data does not keep the “scientists” from making gross and false generalizations. The Service now discloses that all the higher population estimates were censored out of the NRC’s widely-hailed report, so that the NRC could then claim (falsely) that suckers “are not showing an increase in overall abundance”.

The truth of the matter is that Upper Klamath Lake is filled to its carrying capacity with suckers, and while one can try to engineer increases in that carrying capacity, and engineer other changes in habitat beneficial to the suckers, the suckers are not in danger of extinction and never have been since Oregon outlawed the sucker fishery in 1987. And the truth of the matter is that unless and until citizens begin to demand that their public servants take the most minimal steps necessary for rational management, like bothering to measure the size of the populations involved, the great Klamath sucker fraud will go on and on.



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