CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| November 2, 2005
Contact: Noah Greenwald, Center. for Biological Diversity, 503-484-7495
GILA CHUB LISTED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES UNDER ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
DEGRADATION OF SOUTHWEST RIVERS AND INVASIVE SPECIES LEADING TO EXTINCTION OF NUMEROUS SOUTHWEST FISH, AMPHIBIANS AND OTHER SPECIES
In response to a 1998 petition and several lawsuits from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the Gila Chub, a rare southwestern fish, as an endangered species today. FWS also designated just over 160 miles of critical habitat in Arizona and New Mexico for the Chub. The Chub has been eliminated from 85-90% of its historic range by a combination of stream degradation and introduction and spread of non-native fish and amphibians, such as the Bull Frog.
"The Endangered Species Act is the Nations best safety-net for protecting wildlife and their habitats, and we're glad the Gila Chub is finally getting the protection it deserves," states Noah Greenwald, conservation Biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Gila Chub joins a growing number of species dependent on Southwest rivers and streams that are on the threatened and endangered list, including 31 other fish, three amphibians, and a number of plants, birds, mammals and invertebrates. If drastic action is not taken to restore and protect Southwest rivers and begin controlling non-native species, many of the Southwest's unique stream animals and plants will be lost forever.
"Without protection, Southwest rivers and streams will experience rates of extinction comparable to tropical rainforests," states Greenwald. "By ensuring adequate stream flows, maintaining streamside vegetation and removing non-natives, the loss of the Gila Chub and other species dependent on Southwest rivers can be avoided."
As in most critical habitat designations issued by the Bush Administration, the final designation shrunk from what was originally proposed. The proposal included 207.8 miles of stream in Arizona and New Mexico compared to 160.3 miles in the final designation. The reduction occurred because FWS excluded areas they argued were already under management or because the economic costs of designation were deemed too high. In addition, except for a stretch on Turkey Creek in New Mexico, the final designation is limited to areas where the Chub still occurs and because of the exclusions does not include all areas where the species is found.
"Protecting wildlife like the Gila Chub means protecting the places where they live," states Greenwald. "Critical habitat is an effective tool for protecting and recovering the Nation's wildlife and we're disappointed that the designation didn't include more river miles for recovery of Gila Chub."