Volume 6, Number 10 - June 1, 2006
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Endangered in Sublette County
While there is national concern for the future of species classified as threatened and endangered, Sublette County – gas boom and all – is a hub for several of these species, providing a positive future for these animals.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 16 listed species in Wyoming, although the agency notes that four of those endangered species do not actually occur in the state. This includes the bonytail chub and humpback chub, two fish dependent upon waters of the Colorado River for survival, the Eskimo curlew and the endangered gray wolf.
Wyoming most definitely has wolves, but the wolf populationis now considered an experimental population, not fully endangered.
Wyoming’s listed species also include three threatened plants and two other fish species also associated with Colorado River waters: the razorback sucker and the pikeminnow, both of which are classified as endangered. With the Green River being the headwaters of the Colorado River, what happens with water in this drainage is a significant factor in ensuring the survival of these four species of endangered fish.
The list also includes the endangered Wyoming toad and the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse of eastern Wyoming, a threatened species. Recent genetic research indicates the jumping mouse species is not distinct, so will probably be removed from the federal listing.
Also on the endangered list is the black-footed ferret, often called the nation’s most endangered mammal. Although a native of the Sublette County region, confirmation of ferret presence has not been documented here for many years. Ferrets do exist as an experimental population in a reintroduction area elsewhere in Wyoming.
Left on the list are the endangered Kendall Warm Springs dace and the threatened grizzly bear, bald eagle and Canada lynx. All four species are found in Sublette County and the dace is found nowhere else in the world outside Sublette County.
The Kendall Warm Springs dace was listed as endangered in its entire range on October 13, 1970. It is the only fish species to inhabit the Kendall Warm Springs and its entire range consists of the spring and a short stream segment. Kendall dace adults range from 23mm-54mm in size and prefer mainstream eddies and pools. FWS reports that little is known about this species, but spawning is thought to occur several times a year. Observations from individuals raised in a laboratory suggest that this species reaches maturity at two years.
FWS reported: “Surveying the springs to obtain an acceptable population size would result in considerable disturbance and stress to the dace population and habitat. Recent observations have estimated the population to be in the several thousands.”
Bald eagles have been listed as threatened since 1967, although FWS is now in the process of removing the species from its listed status. Eagles will still be federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
The bald eagle is the second largest North American bird of prey, with an average seven-foot wingspan. Bald eagles are monogamous and thought to mate for life unless one mate dies. Bald eagles have lived up to 36 years in captivity.
The Canada lynx was first listed as threatened in 2000. Lynx have been documented and tracked in the Wyoming Range in recent years, including kitten production. Lynx survivorship, productivity and population dynamics are closely related to snowshoe hare density. It is believed that lynx populations can only persist in a large boreal forested landscape that contains appropriate forest types, snow depths and high snowshoe hare densities.
Grizzly bears have exceeded recovery goals after more than 30 years of federal protection and now appear to be common in the Upper Green River region. In 1975, the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone region was less than 200 and largely confined to Yellowstone National Park. Biologists now estimate the population has increased to between 500 and 600 animals, many of which make their homes on the six national forests surrounding Yellowstone, including the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Upper Green, far outside the recovery zone. FWS has stated the process of removing Yellowstone grizzlies from the federal list of threatened species.
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