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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


March 18, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, 360-902-2256

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Washington praises Federal bull trout delay

OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its decision to consider listing under the Endangered Species Act only bull trout in parts of Washington and for asking a federal judge for more time before taking the action.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that 1994 data indicated the listing of some Washington bull trout stocks would be warranted. But it said it was asking a U.S. District Court in Oregon for more time to review more recent data on the species' status. It also determined bull trout stocks in northwest Washington did not warrant listing.

"The Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent a lot of time and resources in recent years to determine exactly how healthy Washington's populations of bull trout are," said Bruce Crawford, who heads the department's Fish Management Program. "We're pleased the federal government is asking to review new data produced by Washington before moving forward in the listing process. All of Washington would be hurt economically by a statewide bull trout ESA listing," Crawford said. "We are pleased that the USFWS is looking at specific populations rather than a broad brush approach to the listing."

He noted the Department of Fish and Wildlife began taking steps to protect bull trout stocks in the 1980s.

The federal agency is asking the court to extend the decision deadline to Aug. 15.

WDFW research has determined there are 80 stocks of bull trout and Dolly Varden in Washington. Bull trout and Dolly Varden are members of the char family, a subgroup of salmon.

The USFWS determined, based on 1994 information, only bull trout in the Columbia River region of Washington warrant ESA listing. The WDFW has determined, in a draft stock status report that within Washington: nine of the 51 stocks in the Columbia River region are healthy; three are in poor condition and three are in critical condition. The status of the other 36 stocks is unknown.

Steps taken by WDFW to protect Washington bull trout include:

  • Prohibiting fishing for them except in areas where stocks are healthy
  • Liberalizing catch limits for non-native brook trout (brook trout compete with bull trout)
  • Producing a bull trout/Dolly Varden management plan
  • Continuing to research the status of Washington stocks
  • Working with the USFWS since 1995 to produce a memorandum of understanding outlining steps to be taken to conserve bull trout.