Endangered Fish Population of the Colorado River

Apple Middleton, Journalist

The Colorado River Basin is home to 14 different species of fish including multiple endangered species that are native to Colorado. Little do many Coloradans know, the river they live by is slowly losing the life that is beneath its textured water. 

            Of the fourteen species that call the Colorado river home, four of them are endangered. These species include: the razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, bonytail and humpback chub. Humans may seem helpless in this often disregarded issue, but we can be huge allies to the endangered animals. 

    For decades,  millions of dollars have been spent to aid the fish populations that are on the brink of extinction, but they have continued to struggle due to the drastic highs and lows of the Colorado River temperatures and conditions. 

      But, the Ouray National Fish Hatchery is trying to help. They are located near the Green River in Northeastern Utah,where two of the four endangered species, the bonytail and razorback sucker, are grown. According to the Ouray National Fish Hatchery, the fish are placed in aquasimulators, mirroring the currents and temperature changes of the river. With the help of scientists, and the conduction of these conservation techniques, the bonytail have had more success in the wild and their population has grown substantially.

Two decades ago the bonytail was nearly extinct, and the last few were taken out of Lake Mohave and kept alive by hatcheries while scientists study them and why they aren’t successful in the wild. 

    While bonytail have seemed unable to recover from the near extinction they faced, most fish species in the Colorado River can bounce back quickly with the help of fish conservation hatcheries and scientists.  While rehabilitating the fish, researchers have to be sure to approach them carefully due to their hypersensitivity to stress. With this stress, Imagine how they must react to the harsh Colorado River. It is believed that the poor survival skills of the bonytail are attributed to its stress levels. Bonytail are easily spooked and frightened, they will hold the stress for 45 days and then after that time, they will die from it. Tildon Jones, member of the Fish and Wildlife Service, states: “The river is highly manipulated. Humans have changed it a lot, and we’re probably going to have to play a role in helping these species survive.” 

   The Colorado River is a  versatile body of water which is highly affected by humans, thus, humans need to pay it back to the wildlife that lives in the waters they build and recreate on. The fish of the Colorado River are decreasing day by day due to the rough conditions they are enduring, but humans can help with dam building and removal, weed  and trash cleanup, and donating to fish conservation businesses. We often take our surroundings for granted and never realize what we have until it’s dying or gone.