Fight over fluvial arctic grayling not over yet
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) ” Environmentalists continue the fight to secure federal protection for the fluvial arctic grayling.
Several groups and individuals gave the federal government official notice Tuesday that they will return to court to seek protection for the rare fish.
Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled the grayling did not deserve federal protection, although the agency since 1994 had maintained the fish was in trouble and deserved listing.
The reversal was due to political pressure from the Bush administration, according to those who declared their intent to sue, including the Center for Biological Diversity; Western Wildlands Project; Pat Munday, president of the Butte-based Grayling Restoration Alliance; and author and environmentalist George Wuerthner.
They blame Julie MacDonald, former deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, who recently resigned after accusations that she interfered with government scientists and leaked sensitive information to industry groups fighting the listing of different species.
Scientists and administrators in FWS field offices had recommended listing the grayling, according to Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The decision not to list came from Washington, D.C., he said.
The litigants charge FWS decided that extinction of the Montana grayling population is insignificant.
Doug Peterson, an FWS fisheries biologist in Helena who has been working on grayling issues, declined to comment on the accusations, other than to say the lawsuit wasn’t a surprise.
South of the Canadian border, fluvial, or river-dwelling grayling, live only in a roughly 80-mile stretch of the Big Hole River in southwestern Montana. It is the rarest fish in Montana except for the pallid sturgeon, which is a listed species in eastern Montana.
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