Little fish a big deal: Oregon chub to leave Endangered Species List

Little fish a big deal: Oregon chub to leave Endangered Species List »Play Video
Oregon chub (ODFW photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A 2-inch minnow made a big splash near Springfield on Tuesday.

The Oregon chub becomes the first fish species ever proposed for delisting from the federal Endangered Species Act. 

"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 announcement came Tuesday morning along a McKenzie River slough near Springfield. 

Officials said the chub was down to about 1,000 two decades ago.

Reintroducing the fish in rivers has brought population up to over 150,000 now in the Willamette River basin. 

Ongoing monitoring will continue for the next 9 years, said Paul Scherer, lead project manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Joe Moll, executive director of the McKenzie River Trust, said the chub's obscurity made it easier to find solutions because there were none of the high stakes and big egos involved in charismatic species like wolves, grizzly bears and salmon.

"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," he said. "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."

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The Associated Press contributed to this story