A small minnow has become the first fish to ever be removed from the endangered species list. The small chub only lives in the backwaters of Oregon and scientists recently confirmed it was no longer at risk for extinction.
"We're not saying it won't need management," said Paul Henson, Oregon director of Fish and Wildlife. "But they can leave the hospital and get out to be an outpatient."
The Oregon minnow was first placed on the endangered species list 21 years ago and wildlife officials say that they will continue to monitor minnow populations over the next few years to make sure they are still growing.
When wildlife officials added the minnows to the endangered species list, there were very few of them left in the ponds throughout Oregon. The reason for the small populations was loss of habitat. Many of the ponds that the minnows live in have been drained and filled in to make room for farmland or construction sites.
The small amount of ponds inhabited by the minnow were easy for officials to find and monitor and in a strange way, helped them restore the minnow population to one that is sustainable.
"We are better able to look at something that you can put in the hand of a little kid, and just reflects joy with the natural world," said Joe Moll, executive director of the McKenzie River Trust . "The recovery of the Oregon chub is a sign the river is still alive. It still has the processes that things like chub and chinook salmon juveniles evolved with."
Although the minnows are small and limited to a select area, they still play an important role in their ecosystem. They act as food for many birds, larger fish and some small mammals. If the Oregon chubs were to become extinct, many animals in the ecosystem would suffer and could face extinction as well.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.