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.
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
- 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.