Rules that isolated population is not a distinct population
The mountain whitefish of the Big Lost River Basin was denied endangered species protection by Ken Salazar’s US Fish and Wildlife Service. They argued that the fish could not be considered a separate species, sub-species, or distinct population segment even though they have been isolated from other whitefish for more than 10,000 years and their habitat is being destroyed by water diversions and livestock grazing.
Because of this isolation they have become genetically divergent form other populations and should be considered a distinct population segment. In fact, one report, which examined the genetic traits of these fish found them to be the most genetically distinct population. The problem is that the USFWS based nearly their entire reasoning on genetics when little is really known about how important even slight variations may be in fish populations which are easily reproductively isolated and have very different ecological pressures as opposed to widespread land animals. The USFWS didn’t consider distinct life history, habitat, or behavioral qualities. The idea that they are not a DPS doesn’t even pass the sniff test.
While whitefish are plentiful in many other places, this isolated population has been severely affected by irrigation dams which prevent movement up and down stream, dewater entire sections of river, and are not screened so fish are diverted into fields.
Cattle grazing has also eliminated them from some of the smaller streams such as Antelope Creek and the entire Copper Basin.
Mountain Whitefish in Big Lost River will not be protected
Idaho State Journal
Feds: No protection for whitefish
By SIMMI AUJLA – Associated Press