The little Oregon chub is providing big headlines on the fisheries front. It’s the first fish ever to be deemed “recovered” and removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals.
“This milestone demonstrates how the Endangered Species Act can bring people together to accomplish a shared goal,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This effort succeeded because of an extraordinary partnership between federal and state agencies, landowners and other stakeholders who brought this species and ecosystem back from the brink of extinction in just over 20 years.
“We’re now managing the river in a smarter way, which means better opportunities for recreation, a boost for salmon recovery and improved water quality – all of which are good news for Oregon and its economy.”
The Oregon chub, a small minnow found only in the Willamette River Basin in floodplain habitats with little or no water flow, was listed as endangered in 1993 and reclassified as threatened in 2010. Primary factors that led to its listing were loss of habitat and predation by nonnative fishes. Through collaborative partnerships, and aided by outreach to the local communities, these threats have been lessened over the last 21 years with restoration and acquisition of habitat, promotion of natural river flows, and the reintroduction of chub into historical habitat.
Just eight populations totaling fewer than 1,000 fish were known to exist at the time of listing in 1993. Today, the population stands at more than 140,000 fish at 80 locations with a diverse range of habitats.
The Endangered Species Act has helped prevent the slide toward extinction for hundreds of species. The Oregon chub joins 28 other species that have been successfully recovered and removed from the Endangered Species List. Many other species also are experiencing trends toward recovery, including three additional ones from Oregon: the Modoc sucker is currently proposed for delisting, and the Borax Lake chub and the Columbian white-tailed deer are recommended for reclassification from endangered to threatened.