Since 1999, there have been endangered populations of bull trout in Oregon, Washington and other Western states. Unfortunately, there is now an argument about to enter the courtroom about what is the best way to replenish these fish.
Why Bull Trout Are Growing Endangered
The bull trout’s food supply has greatly diminished because there aren’t as many salmon eggs or young salmon available for them to feed on. Of course, there are also some other factors that have led to them becoming endangered. These other treats come from things like warming water that’s occurred due to climate change; populations becoming much more isolated; the bull trout hybridization’s with non-native brook trout; and competition caused by trout from foreign lakes. All of this has led the bull trout in the lower 48 states to amount to only about 60% of their former population, making it a cause for concern.
What Is Planned to Increase the Bull Trout Population?
After a lawsuit in 2014 officials took actions to set up a recovery plan. It identified over 100 core trout areas in 6 recovery units. They’ve located these units across several of the Western states in the U.S. The recovery plan set forth some very specific actions about how experts would work to bolster the bull trout in each of these units. For instance, within the four largest recovery units the plan required stable populations of bull trout present in at least 75% of the core areas before they’d even consider delisting them. While the plan does aim for 100%, they consider 75% acceptable in some units because the Fish and Wildlife Service is confident the trout would still remain viable.
In September the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a proposal that outlined how they planned on boosting the bull populations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and a small section of Nevada. The problem is these groups don’t believe that there is enough being done to set up measurable goals to remove the species from the endangered species list.
Why Some Experts Are Opposed to This Idea
Two conservation groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, are planning to sue the government because they believe this plan is insufficient and in some areas it would allow doing away with 25% of the bull salmon population. These groups also say the federal plan to bolster the bull salmon populations violates the Endangered Species Act.
According to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell the groups’ proposal to aid the fish’s recovery is illegal. However, Mike Garrity, executive director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, says the government wants to “redefine recovery to almost extinct.” He went on to then say that the government wants to lower “the bar so they can delist bull trout.”
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When asked, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they don’t comment on pending litigation and would not be willing to make a statement until after the proceedings had completed.