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Imperiled Species

Antoine Holmquist Photo

The Clearwater Country contains numerous imperiled native species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or are deserving of being listed under the law. Chinook salmon, wild steelhead, Bull trout, Canada lynx, and Grizzly Bears are currently listed as “threatened” under the ESA. Wolverines, Northern Rockies Fisher, and Gray wolves should be protected under the law but currently are not. Click here to learn more about the public lands laws, including the Endangered Species Act, which offer some form of protection for public lands and native species in the U.S.

Below are descriptions of species recovery efforts that we are involved with.

Gray wolf recovery
Gray wolves are native to the wild forests of the Clearwater Basin. No one is certain if wolves in the Clearwater survived the U.S. Biological Survey (known today as the USDA Wildlife Services) nation wide predator eradication program in the early 20th Century. We do know that government officials verified that wolves had occupied habitat in the Weitas Creek and Kelly Creek drainages on the Clearwater National Forest in the 1970s. It’s possible wolves were present in the Clearwater when the federal government began gray wolf recovery efforts in the mid-1990s. Learn more.

Canada lynx recovery
Approximately 1,000 Canada lynx inhabit a portion of their historical range in the Lower 48. Lynx prefer forested and high-elevation areas, with small populations in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Other populations occur in Maine and Minnesota. Research suggests there are approximately 100 lynx in Idaho, though there has not been a confirmed breeding pair in some time. A Forest Service wildlife biologist had a confirmed lynx sighting along the Lochsa River in the 2000′s. Learn more.

Wolverine recovery
There are approximately 300 wolverines remaining in the Lower 48. More than half of the population exists in Montana, with smaller populations in Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. There have been confirmed sightings of the species in Oregon, California, and Colorado. Research suggests that the biggest population of wolverines is in Glacier National Park, with the second biggest population (no one knows exactly how many) occurring in and around the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers Basins of Idaho. Learn more.

Northern Rockies Fisher recovery
A formal petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was submitted in September 2013 to seek protection for the imperiled Northern Rockies Fisher as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The petition also requested that critical habitat be designated, in conjunction with a finding that the fisher does indeed warrant federal protection. Trapping, predation, disease, road building, logging, and loss of habitat, particularly old-growth forests, have led to the sharp decline of this formidable predator. Learn more. 

Grizzly bear recovery
Grizzly bears were once common throughout the Clearwater Basin and the Bitterroots. All that changed within one hundred years of the Lewis & Clark Expedition passing through the region in the early 1800′s. Trappers, hunters, homesteaders, and ranchers soon took their toll on the “silver-tipped” grizzly bears found along mountain ridges, prairies, and various drainages of the Lochsa, Selway, and forks of the Clearwater. Learn more.

Bull trout recovery
Bull trout were historically found in approximately 60% of the Columbia Basin. Today their population is highly diminished and fragmented, and found in less then half their historic range. Scattered populations exist in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Learn more.

Salmon and steelhead recovery
The Snake River Basin was historically one of the greatest producers of anadromous fish in the United States. Prominent runs of Chinook salmon, Coho, Sockeye, and steelhead filled its rivers and tributaries on an annual basis for millions of years. This bountiful and life-giving abundance came to a crashing end in the 20th Century, however, due to overharvesting by commercial fisheries, and the dam building frenzy that captured our nation. Salmon and steelhead face threats from hydropower, hatcheries, harvest, and habitat.