Idaho Fish and Game director Virgil Moore said threatened bull trout numbers have rebounded in Idaho and are recovered.
“I believe its time to delist them in Idaho,” Moore told the Idaho Environmental Forum Wednesday.
Moore said in the Salmon River the fish, previously called Dolly Varden trout, is filling all available habitat. He said state federal and private efforts, started by former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt are responsible for the dramatic turnaround.
Bull trout were listed as threatened in 1998 in large parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. A small part of Nevada’s Jarbidge watershed is included.
Efforts to protect habitat and to open up previously closed areas by replacing culverts has prompted the quick response, Moore said.
Moore’s statement was hailed by Norm Semanko, executive director of the Idaho WaterUsers Association.
“Taking bull trout off the federal threatened and endangered species list would eliminate the ill-advised critical habitat restrictions that were imposed in the Boise and Payette River Basins last year,” Semanko said. “These critical habitat designations have caused a new round of ESA consultations between federal agencies and created uncertainty among water providers and other resource users in southwest Idaho.”
He called on Gov. Butch Otter to take leadership on the issue and push for delisting in Idaho.
But that is not going to be easy. It was the attempt to delist wolves along state lines that led to the lawsuit that caused all of the problems for the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list in Idaho.
“Bull trout are currently listed range-wide in the U.S. not just in Idaho, so we have not evaluated their status just in Idaho,” said Ted Koch, bull trout recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise. “We are currently not persuading opportunities to list or delist species along state lines.”