The least chub is a little minnow, only about two inches long. The six remaining wild populations are found only in springs and creeks in western Utah, and about 15-thousand of them have found a new home. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked a spring system on a private ranch in Fairfield, west of Utah Lake. Mark Grover, a biologist with the Division, says the fish were raised in a state hatchery, but they come from a dwindling population at Mona Springs in Juab County.
“This is the population that’s struggling the most," Grover tells KUER. "In fact, the Fish and Wildlife Service once declared it functionally extinct. But they’re hanging on there, but depend on us to supplement and back them up a bit.”
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to list the fish as an endangered species several years ago. The Center’s Noah Greenwald says it’s great that a private landowner is helping to protect them, but more is needed.
He says, “There’s just a wide range of threats to this very, very imperiled fish, and it’s gonna need the Endangered Species Act in order to survive and recover in the future.”
The state hopes creating the new population will help to avoid an endangered species listing for the least chub. The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make its decision in the coming year.