Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Feds won't fight judge's ruling on suckers

Published Jan 25, 2004


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to fight a judge's decision in a case involving the status of suckers protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The decision doesn't have an immediate impact on the status of the suckers, which along with coho salmon are central to the struggle over water in the Klamath Basin.

But a lawyer for a group of Basin residents said the decision means the service will have to re-examine whether the suckers should be protected, or else come up with solid reasons why it rejected a petition to have the suckers taken off the endangered list.

The decision involves a case before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones in Portland.

In September, Jones ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its decision not to take two species of suckers off the endangered list.

On Oct. 31, the government gave notice that it would appeal the decision. Last month, it decided not to go through with the appeal. A government spokesman wouldn't say why.

"When we don't appeal, we don't comment," said Charles Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which represents the Fish and Wildlife Service.

James Buchal, a Portland attorney, is representing a group of Klamath Basin residents who want the suckers delisted.

"They are not an endangered species," he said. "They are not California condors or zebras. There are zillions of them all over the place."

The Lost River and shortnose suckers were listed as endangered in 1988.

But Buchal contends there are "abundant" populations of both kinds of suckers.

On Oct. 19, 2001, Buchal filed a petition to have the two kinds of suckers that only are found in the Klamath Basin removed from the endangered list.

About eight months later, the Fish and Wildlife Service denied the petition. Buchal then took the issue to court, wanting to get the service to do a status review of the suckers.

Joan Jewitt, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the service is trying to decide whether to reissue a 90-day finding, which would explain why it denied the petition, or proceed with a five-year review of status of species.

"We are considering those two options and hope to make a decision in the near future," she said.

She said Judge Jones outlined the two options, but didn't set a deadline.

But Buchal said if the government doesn't exercise either option by April, then he would ask the judge to force action.

"The ball is in their court," Buchal said.

Reporter Dylan Darling covers natural resources. He can be reached at 885-4471, (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at ddarling@heraldandnews.com.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material  herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
expressed  a  prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit
research and  educational purposes only. For more information go to:




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved