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Fish Agency Gets Cutthroat on Trout Status

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency has withdrawn its 1999 proposal to list the Southwestern Washington/Columbia River Distinct Population Segment of coastal cutthroat trout as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The change reflects the agency's original decision in 2002 that the 1999 proposed listing was unwarranted because new data suggested that the population of the trout was much larger than previously thought.

The agency was forced to reconsider part of its decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled in 2008 that while the agency did not err in its determination not to list the entire distinct population segment as threatened, it should have considered whether or not the marine and estuarine parts of the population segment constituted a significant portion of the range of the coastal cutthroat trout within that distinct population segment and should receive separate consideration under the act.

After collecting information specifically on the marine and estuarine range of the population, the agency has determined that there is not a substantial difference between those populations and the rest of the population segment, because the cutthroat trout shows the ability to develop anadromous (salt water living) traits even in rivers where the trout has been isolated from returning populations by dams. Thus, the agency found there is no clear evidence that the marine and estuarine populations (which are anadromous) are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.


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