Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yes, Big Hole River grayling are endangered...

... so let's get 'em listed & protected (if the Big Hole Watershed was effective, we'd see grayling population rising by now--instead, it's still declining).

From the Billings Gazette newspaper:

Protection sought for grayling, wolverine
Advocacy group draws up list of 10 species from around nation
Of The Gazette Staff

The arctic grayling and wolverine, native Montana species, were among the 10 species listed Tuesday as most in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The list was drawn up by a panel of scientists and advocates from an association of environmental groups, the Endangered Species Coalition.

The group criticized the Bush administration for listing few species, despite a backlog of more than 200 species that the group claims are in need of protection.

The criticism comes on the heels of an Interior Department investigation released Monday that found that one of the agency's former officials, Julie MacDonald, frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protection. MacDonald was deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. She resigned in 2007 after it was found that she had tampered with scientific findings, even removing a California fish from a list of threatened species in order to protect her financial interest in a farm near the fish's habitat.

The species highlighted in the group's report are, in order:

• Pacific walrus.

• Rufa population of red knots, a migrating bird.

• North American wolverine.

• Gunnison sage grouse.

• Montana fluvial (river-dwelling) arctic grayling.

• Island marble butterfly.

• Southern Rockies boreal toad.

• Mason's skypilot, an alpine flowering plant.

• Great white shark.

• Wood turtle.

"Honorable mentions" went to the sand dune lizard, Graham's penstemon (a flowering plant) and the Sonoran Desert population of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl.

Montana and Michigan are the only states in the lower 48 that contained river-dwelling grayling, although many are found in Canada and Alaska. The fish is extinct in Michigan. Montana's grayling were once found throughout the upper Missouri River drainage, but now are confined to the upper Big Hole River near Wisdom.

The fish is a species of concern in Montana, so steps have been taken to protect its last stronghold. It was denied endangered-species status in 2007. A suit has been filed to overturn the decision.

"With the end of the Bush administration, the grayling may actually have a chance to finally get the protection it deserves," Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.

The wolverine faces much the same situation. The animal, which once ranged across northern New England, the upper Midwest, the Rockies and West Coast, is now limited to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and a small portion of the Cascades in Washington. The animal was denied endangered-species protection this year. The species can still be trapped in Montana.

In September, 10 conservation organizations filed suit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to protect wolverines in the lower 48. The groups claim that habitat fragmentation and climate change threaten the animals' continued survival in the Western United States.

"All of the species nominated for this report - and hundreds of others - need our help to avoid extinction, even though they are not yet protected by the Endangered Species Act," said Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies representative for the Endangered Species Coalition.

The coalition released its report just days after the Bush administration enacted a rule that would allow government agencies to decide for themselves whether a proposed project threatens protected species, instead of waiting for a review by scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Contact Brett French at or at 657-1387.


jackc50 said...

the bush administration ought to be ashamed.....but theyre not. the more animals that become extinct mean less diversity. the better we take care of the wildlife around us, the better it will be for us all. jc

Anonymous said...

Eco-thanks for checking out my photo's. Anyway, do you know where in Michigan the grayling were? (you do mean trout, right?) I don't know how familiar you are with Michigans eco-system but I live in the one county were Two Major watersheds fact there is a group...the tipp of the mitt watershed association...(one day I will be a member) anyway, if you could give me a link, I could keep an eye out...just in case! They say wolves are not down here either, but than again "they" don't live here and explore the land. :)