July 18, 2006
Bill Schudlich, 505-470-4878
Fred Filmore, 520-404-0061
ALBUQUERQUE – Trout Unlimited (TU) today criticized the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to downlist Gila trout from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This action moves this rare species one step closer to being removed altogether from the endangered species list.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to meet its own criteria for downlisting,” said Bill Schudlich, Chair of the TU New Mexico Council. “One of the most important criteria is the protection and replication of the four pure lineages of Gila trout. To date, not all of the lineages have been replicated.”
“Given the fact that Fish and Wildlife doesn’t meet the objectives identified in its own recovery plan, we can’t understand why it has taken such a step at this time,” added Schudlich.
“TU volunteers and others have engaged in many on-the-ground restoration efforts to benefit these fish,” emphasized Fred Fillmore, Arizona representative to the TU National Leadership Council. “Our ultimate goal is delisting, but today’s decision is premature. It will result in fewer protections for the Gila and has the potential to undermine ongoing and future efforts to restore the species.”
“The Gila trout is a unique resource found nowhere else in the world, and we want to make sure its future is secure,” said Schudlich.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with 160,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.