Bonneville cutthroat not threatened, F & W says

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Bonneville cutthroat not threatened, Fish and Wildlife Service says.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday the Bonneville cutthroat trout does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Biodiversity Legal Foundation, based in Louisville, Colo., petitioned the service in 1998 to list the species as threatened. No one from the foundation could be reached for comment Tuesday.

A viable self-sustaining population exists and is widely distributed through its historic range, service officials said.

The fish, one of 14 subspecies of cutthroat trout, is found mostly in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada. They have large, evenly distributed spots and are generally considered less colorful than other cutthroat subspecies.

Ralph Morgenweck, regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, credited federal, state and tribal agencies for conserving Bonneville cutthroat trout.

"Because state wildlife and land management agencies have made these conservation actions fundamental components of agency planning, we expect continued improvements in the status and habitat of this native fish well into the future."

Mike Stone, chief of the Fisheries Division of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said he supports the decision. Additional work is needed to restore all subspecies of cutthroat trout, although substantial progress has been made, he said.

Bonneville cutthroat trout are native to southwestern Wyoming, primarily in the Smiths Fork and Thomas Fork drainages of the Bear River system. The subspecies is also found in Lake Alice in the southern Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Once thought to be extinct in Wyoming, the fish rebounded with help from public and private funding.
 
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