US Fish and Wildlife tags 29 species for possible protections

Laramie, WY – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today that six species in Wyoming may need protection under the Endangered Species Act to avoid extinction. They include five plants and one fish - the Northern leatherside chub.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Valerie Fellows says the Service will do a detailed scientific review of each species, including asking for public comments: "The Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to solicit new information, research, academic work, population information, monitoring, threats to the species, and it's a way for us to reach out to the conservation community and try to get that information."

Fellows says that process should take about a year, after which the Service will decide whether or not each species warrants protection. Among the plants on the list is one that only grows on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

In total, the service today identified 29 species in the West and Midwest that may require protection. They did so in response to a petition from the environmental group WildEarth Guardians. In 2007, that group petitioned the Service to protect 206 species, most of them in the West. The Service turned down all but these 29.

Fellows says this was not the first time that WildEarth Guardians has petitioned for species protection en masse. In 2007 the group also submitted a petition to protect 475 species in the Southwest. In that case, the Service turned down protections for all of them.