Oregon Chub Makes History as First Fish to Escape Endangered Species List

   02.20.15

Roughly about a year ago, we reported on a proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove the Oregon chub from the federal endangered species list, which would make the tiny minnow the first fish to ever recover after being listed. On Tuesday, the USFWS announced that the fish, which is now numbered at over 140,000 at 80 different locations, has officially been delisted.

“This milestone demonstrates how the Endangered Species Act can bring people together to accomplish a shared goal,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a press release. “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 was first added to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals in 1993. At the time, fewer than 1,000 of fish still remained in the Willamette River Basin, mainly as a result of habitat loss and predation by nonnative fish. For 21 years, wildlife agencies and conservationists have worked together with private landowners to restore the chub’s habitat, change river flows, and reintroduce the fish to its native range. USFWS officials credited much of the work to Oregon residents who worked to support the restoration of the chub back to the region.

“It has been an exciting experience to know that we had a small part in helping in the recovery of this tiny fish,” said Gail Haws, one of the first private landowners who worked with state and federal agencies to restore the minnow back to her land. “It is not often that one sees results from such a project with so many people, so much energy given to save a part of the environment.”

The greatest population of Oregon chub now resides in the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, while a smaller number is reported at the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge and other locations. It may be a far cry from the fish’s larger historic range, but officials say the chub’s delisting is encouraging.

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