Feds Fly Endangered Fish To Safety

By Laurel Morales
May 09, 2013

Several federal agencies are translocating juvenile humpback chub to ensure the endangered fish's survival.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The Grand Canyon National Park and other federal agencies are going to great lengths to save a homely fish in the Colorado River Basin. The latest is translocation, which involves several trucks, helicopters and biologists.

The humpback chub has survived many obstacles. After the dams were built to provide electricity and water to the Southwest, the water temperature downstream dropped, slowing the chubs’ growth. Silt blocked up behind the dam so there was no place to hide when non-native predators were introduced to the river. Many native fish have died off and the chub became endangered.

"I know that’s hard for people to look at and say ‘well so what if it’s the last one around’ but it’s an indicator to a much larger ecosystem," said Martha Hahn, chief of science and resource management at Grand Canyon National Park.

Since 2009 federal officials have been packing hundreds of juvenile fish into coolers, trucking them to hatcheries, tagging them, then flying them to nearby tributaries. Hahn says they’ve had great success with this move. One adult fish they tagged traveled 45 miles upstream back home safely to the Little Colorado River. The fish management plan is now available for public review.