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  • Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    About Damn Time


    .. For two years we've noted the continuing demise of the fluvial grayling in the Rocky Mountains, particularly in Montana and Yellowstone, (Reports in this blog.) The court decision that seemingly doomed the fish is reported HERE.
    .. With current research showing that the population in Yellowstone is a remnant of planted fish, and the confirmation that they are adfluvial grayling rather that native river dwellers, the issue becomes even more critical.
    .. Despite calls from many grayling advocates both the Montana FWP and the U.S. FWS have continually denied the fish the protection that they need and deserve. The grayling, along with the indigenous cutthroat, are in trouble.
    .. Now, Ted Williams has taken up the cause. An article in High Country News, (via MidCurrent,) again points out the insidiousness of the current administration in dealing with our natural resources. Williams points out the flip-flop of USFWS and notes the genetic and geographic singularity of the Rocky Mountain population. We need now a concerted and focused effort to list these fish and to do it now.
    .. For resources and a fine video we reprint our post on the subject below.

    First Time In Over 13 Years
    .. About ten years ago we noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to catch a Grayling on the upper Gibbon. For years we'd enjoy a walk to Grebe Lake, take a few, smile, and walk out again. As the legs became more like rubber we could still take our gray ghost in Wolf Lake. Then as rubber turned to spaghetti, we'd take this jewel of the river just a few steps from the pull-outs along the Virginia Cascade Drive, or in the runs around Norris Campground. We're usually on the upper Gibbon 2 -3 times a week. The Grayling is not in our posts this year, and we started early.
    .. The catching of this fish didn't become a pilgrimage for us until about 4 - 5 years ago, when we noticed that they were particularly difficult to catch in Yellowstone National Park. Granted, it's possible to catch the Fluvial Grayling other places - but not many: maybe none if the USFWS has it's way.
    .. Last April sixth, New West ran a column about the Fluvial Grayling by George Wurthner, wherein he noted that:
    "Ever since the fish was first documented to be in danger by the FWS in 1982, the agency has done just about everything it could to avoid listing."

    .. On April 24, 2007 the EPA denied that the Fluvial Arctic Grayling of the upper Missouri River basin, [[ i.e. Big Hole River ]] was a Distinct Population Segment, and therefore not entitled to listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This action closely followed the denial of the Westslope Cutthroat as a separate species by a federal judge, in March.
    .. The EPA denial brought quick responses from bloggers. Ralph Maughan, on April 25 noted that:
    "We are witnessing the political dismemberment of what is supposed to be an agency guided by science - instead plundered by political obstructionists and public land profiteers."

    .. On the same day Ecorover Pat Munday delivered two posts about the Grayling: "Who Killed Big Hole Grayling? A not-so-mysterious murder." AND "US Fish & Wildlife Service: Big Hole River grayling are not significant."
    .. A day later we posted a note, and The Trout Underground noted that:
    "Astoundingly, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has once again denied species protection (under the ESA) to the fluvial grayling.It’s clearly a political move; the fluvial grayling qualifies for protection under almost any ESA standard."

    .. Now, it's possible that the USFWS is going to reconsider its decision. Mike Bias, Executive Director of The Big Hole River Foundation has sent a letter in support of a reversal to Mark Wilson and Doug Petersen - USFWS, Helena - in support of the Grayling. The letter is annotated with an additional letter of support from the leading Grayling experts from around the world. The documentation in both letters about the genetic and behavioral differences between the Fluvial and Lacustrine forms is significant, and should be familiar to all fans of the Fluvial Grayling.
    .. Ted Williams writes, in Fly Rod & Reel Online, about this situation as well. The post; "Who Needs Grayling?" was penned in June, and just published. He cites the results of Amber Steed, a graduate student at Montana State University, who will shortly publish data revealing that the Grayling occasionally seen in the Gibbon River are adfluvial fish that drop down from Grebe and Wolf lakes, stocked in 1920.
    .. We now know about the Yellowstone fish, and this makes the Big Hole fish all that more important. The whole sordid tale of the politics of this fish is retold in a succinct form by Williams and is worthy of review.
    .. There are several organizations that are working to save the Fluvial Grayling of the Big Hole River. Each has web pages and sections on efforts and issues associated with this fight.
    --- The Big Hole River Foundation,
    --- Arctic Grayling Recovery Program,
    --- The Nature Conservancy
    --- Montana River Action
    Just how rare is the Fluvial Grayling of the Big Hole River?
    Try Google for an indication:
    .. Google Search for FLUVIAL GRAYLING:
    --> Web = about 23,000 entries, (vs. about 22,800,000 for trout,)
    --> Images = about 286 entries, (vs. about 1,900,000 for trout,)
    --> News = one, (vs. about 4,710 for trout,)
    --> Maps = 7, (vs. about 10,200 for trout,)
    --> Video = one very well done entry presented below for your edification. (vs. about 6,569 for trout.)

    .. Other Resources:
    "Jeremy Bentham, the Pieta, and a Precious Few Grayling" by David Quammen
    "Entrepreneurs Save Native Fish" by Jerry Johnson
    "Arctic Grayling Will They Be Delisted?"
    "Reintroducing Fluvial Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) To The Upper Ruby River, MT. A Progress Report"(PDF)
    Montana's Fish Species Of Special Concern - Fluvial Arctic Grayling