WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

Select Page

Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate

Press Releases

WildEarth Guardians Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection for Rio Grande Chub

September 30, 2013
Taylor Jones (505) 490-5141
In This Release
Wildlife   Rio Grande chub
#EndangeredSpeciesAct, #ReviveTheRio
Washington, DC – Today WildEarth Guardians submitted a scientific petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) asking the agency to list the Rio Grande chub under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This small fish, once the most abundant in the Rio Grande,has been completely eliminated from the main stem of the river and is struggling to survive in a few tributaries and basins in New Mexico, Colorado,and Texas.

“The Rio Grande chub can’t survive without the river for which it is named,” said Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “The Rio Grande and its namesake fish are facing unprecedented threats. Endangered Species Act protection will help ensure the Rio Grande chub does not go extinct.”

The Rio Grande is one of the top ten most endangered rivers in the world due to significant man made modifications. Diversion of water from the Rio Grande for agricultural and domestic use has radically changed the character of the river, fragmenting and destroying chub habitat. The chub needs cool water, sandy bottoms,and riverside vegetation to survive and thrive. Channelization and livestock grazing have removed bankside vegetation, and low stream flows have raised the water temperature.Dams separate fish populations and make it impossible for the chub to recolonize historic habitat. Because of the over-extraction of water, the river channel narrowed 30 meters from 1998 to 2008.

As a result of these myriad threats, the chub’s population has declined by as much as 75 percent. The protection of the ESA would provide an important safety net for this imperiled fish and for the river habitat on which it depends. Listing species under the ESA has proven an effective safety net: more than 99 percent of plants and animals listed persist today. The law is especially important as a bulwark against the current extinction crisis; plants and animals are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct if not for ESA listing.