Feds eye protection of native cutthroats | AspenTimes.com

Feds eye protection of native cutthroats

Aspen Times Staff

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is exploring the need to protect the Colorado River cutthroat trout under the Endangered Species Act. (Wyoming Bureau of Land Management)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a review of the Colorado River cutthroat trout to determine whether the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency intends to complete the review by the court-ordered date of June 7, 2007 and will host a meeting next month to collect input on the status of the species. Comments will be received until Jan. 8, 2007.

The service is seeking the latest scientific and commercial information on the status of the cutthroat from the general public, commercial operations, government agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations to help it determine whether to propose adding the fish to the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

“Information fromthe public or scientific and commercial communities will be invaluable in helping the service determine the cutthroat’s status,” said Mitch King, director of the agency’s Mountain-Prairie Region, in a press release announcing the effort.

In 1999, the service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and others to list the Colorado River cutthroat as threatened or endangered in its occupied habitat within its known historical range. In 2004, the service determined the petition didn’t present substantial information indicating the protection may be warranted, but the center responded with a complaint and a court ordered the service to conduct a status review for the species.

The Colorado River cutthroat is the only salmonid native to the upper Colorado River basin. The salmonid family includes trout. It is distinguished by red/orange slash marks on both sides of its lower jaws and relatively large spots concentrated on the posterior part of its body. It is found in parts of the Colorado River drainage in Colorado, southern Wyoming and eastern Utah, and may still occur in limited areas of Arizona and New Mexico.

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An informational workshop will be held Dec. 6 from 1 to 5 p.m. in Grand Junction, giving the Fish and Wildlife Service and interested parties a chance to discuss the cutthroat and provide information regarding its status. The session will take place at the Holiday Inn, 755 Horizon Drive.

Written comments may be submitted to Colorado River Cutthroat Comments; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 764 Horizon Drive, building B; Grand Junction, CO 81506-3946 or faxed to (970) 245-6933. Emails may be sent to [ coloradoriver.cut@fws.gov ].

For more information, go to [ http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/endspp/fish/crct ].

The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.