Native fish reoccupy historic Colorado habitat |

Native fish reoccupy historic Colorado habitat

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

LAKEWOOD, Colo. ” Biologists have found endangered fish in parts of the Colorado and Yampa rivers where they haven’t been seen in decades.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a 26-inch adult male Colorado pikeminnow was captured in April in the Colorado River near Grand Junction.

Also in April, Colorado State University researchers captured a 17-inch adult razorback sucker in the Yampa River about 7 miles upstream of Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado.

Both fish are on the federal endangered species list. Biologists are trying to rebuild the populations of the pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail.

All the fish are natives of the Colorado River system whose numbers have dropped because of dams and nonnative fish.

The pikeminnow was captured as part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery program’s research into how many of the fish exist.

The pikeminnow was captured as part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery program’s research into how many of the fish exist. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Bob Burdick said Wednesday that it was the first pikeminnow found in the river since a passage for fish was built at the Price-Stubb Diversion Dam.

Records show the fish traveled at least 447 miles the past 14 years. Tiny tags are inserted into the fish and scanned to track them. The fish was originally captured in the Green River near Ouray in northeast Utah on May 10, 1995.

“This capture is significant because it demonstrates that since the recovery program modified the Price-Stubb Diversion Dam, fish have regained access to historic habitat that was blocked for almost a century,” Burdick said.

The razorback sucker captured in the Yampa River was stocked in the Green River near Green River, Utah, in 2004. It traveled 280 miles upstream and grew 6 inches over the next five years.

Colorado State biologist John Hawkins said the fish’s capture shows that razorback suckers are reoccupying their historic habitat.

“Hopefully, this razorback sucker will gather with others at spawning areas in the Yampa and Green rivers and contribute to recovery of the species,” Hawkins said.

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