Utah Least Chub May Be Listed as Threatened or Endangered

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that listing the least chub, a member of the minnow family endemic to the Bonneville Basin in Utah, as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted, but that listing the fish is precluded by the need to complete other listing actions of a higher priority.

The least chub will be classified as a candidate species until a listing proposal can be prepared.  Candidate species do not receive statutory protection under the ESA and remain state-managed species.

The Service initiated and completed a comprehensive review and determined that listing the least chub as threatened or endangered is warranted due to impacts associated with livestock grazing and groundwater withdrawals; predation and competition from nonnative fish, particularly mosquitofish; inadequate regulatory mechanisms controlling groundwater withdrawals; and the cumulative effects of drought, current and future groundwater withdrawals, and climate change.

The least chub is a small minnow, with a maximum size of less than 2.5 inches.  The least chub is a colorful species with a gold stripe along blue sides with white to yellow fins.

It eats primarily algae and small invertebrates and is considered a slow-growing species that rarely lives beyond 3 years of age.  The least chub is native to the Bonneville Basin of Utah where it was once widely distributed throughout a variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, springs, ponds, marshes, and swamps.

Currently, only five wild populations of least chub remain.  Three populations are in Snake Valley in Utah’s West Desert.  They include the Leland Harris Spring Complex, Gandy Salt Marsh, and Bishop Spring Complex.

The remaining two wild populations are located on the eastern border of the native range near the Wasatch Front.  Those populations in the Mills Valley and Clear Lake are in the Sevier River drainage.  A functionally extirpated site exists at Mona Springs in the Utah Lake drainage.

For more information, please visit the Service’s web site at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/leastchub.

source: FWS press release