(CN) – A tiny fish native to remote waterways in Oregon has been removed from the federal list of endangered species after decades of work to recover and restore the fish’s habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday.
The Foskett speckled dace is a tiny yet elongated fish with a flat belly and sensory whiskers near its mouth.
The olive grey-toned fish is found only in the natural Foskett and Dace springs, both located in southern Oregon’s Warner Basin.
Fish and Wildlife first published a recovery plan in 1998 after the fish, also called Rhinichthys osculus ssp., was listed as threatened more than a decade earlier.
Scientists believe the fish’s population likely declined over time due to an overgrowth of vegetation and the introduction of a cattle trough in their habitat.
Long-term protection of the natural springs, outflow channels and surrounding lands where the fish is found was determined to be critical to the species’ survival, the agency said in the recovery plan.
The plan also called for the identification of potential new spring habitats for the fish and research into its genetic history.
Recovery efforts have succeeded, and the fish can now be delisted from the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list since the threats to its habitat have been eliminated or reduced, the federal agency said in a 71-page final rule.
“We consider the Foskett speckled dace to be a conservation-reliant species, which we define in this case as a species that has generally met recovery criteria but requires continued active management to sustain the species and associated habitat in a recovered condition given that the Foskett speckled dace requires active management to maintain suitable habitat,” the agency wrote in the rule.
The final rule, set to be published Friday in the Federal Register, finalizes a 2018 proposal by the agency to delist the fish.