By The Associated Press


The Modoc sucker, long thought extinct in Oregon, has shown up in a southern Oregon creek. In fact, it seems the suckers have been there all along. 

``It's a major, major discovery,'' said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Stewart Reid, who is conducting a review of the fish. 

The Modoc sucker was recorded in Oregon's Goose Lake watershed in the 1930s. One of the last references to it was by Carl Bond, a professor of fisheries at OSU, who noted the fish in his ``Keys to Oregon Freshwater Fishes'' in 1961. A 1973 revision of the key did not include it. 

Reid recently confirmed the presence of Modoc suckers in Thomas Creek, a tributary of Goose Lake.  Since confirming the find Reid has been meeting with members of a Goose Lake fishes working group and Lakeview-area landowners. The Modoc suckers in Thomas Creek had been recorded numerous times by Oregon State University researchers, who thought they were another fish, the Sacramento sucker, which is also called the Goose Lake sucker in Oregon. 

Without close study of scales, pores, fin rays and others skeletal features, 
it is hard to tell the two species apart, Reid said. 

The Modoc sucker is a small fish, reaching a maximum size of about one foot. It was first described by Cloudsley Rutter in 1898, on a trip through the Sacramento and Pit river systems to study salmon for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. 

``It's no surprise that Modoc suckers would be up there,'' he said. ``This sucker has adapted to the harsh conditions of the Goose Lake and Pit River systems a lot like the people who live there.''