Media Advisory: June Sucker Gets A Step Closer to Swimming Off Endangered Species List

Date: November 27, 2019
Media Contact: Cindy Gubler 801-971-5639

June Sucker Gets A Step Closer to Swimming Off Endangered Species List:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Proposed Change in June Sucker Status

Federal, state and local officials will gather at the mouth of the Provo River to celebrate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement that it is proposing to reclassify the June sucker from endangered to threatened on the List of Federally Endangered Species. Dignitaries will mark the occasion by releasing some June sucker into the river. The June sucker is endemic to Utah Lake and tributary rivers it uses for spawning – meaning it lives nowhere else in the world.

This decision to downlist the June sucker is based on a recent assessment that concluded the species no longer is in danger of immediate extinction. In the mid-1990s, it was estimated that there were less than 500 adult June sucker. Today, the population is estimated to be in the thousands. Only three other endangered fish in the United States have been downlisted; all three were eventually delisted and removed from the Endangered Species List.

“This is a historic moment for one of Utah’s few remaining native fish species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Supervisor Larry Crist. “This accomplishment is possible because of the tremendous partnerships that make up the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program (JSRIP), a multi-agency effort designed to coordinate and implement recovery activities for the fish. Members of the JSRIP developed a strong recovery plan and have been working diligently to implement it.” “The proposed downlisting of June sucker from Endangered to Threatened status is a huge milestone for the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Recovery Programs Director Christopher Keleher, “Partnerships are the key to conservation success, and this milestone would not have been possible without the long-term collaboration and contributions of state, local and federal partners. This proposed downlisting of June sucker is a major step in the right direction, we understand the need to continue working through the JSRIP partnership to achieve our ultimate goal of recovery of this amazing fish.

The JSRIP is made up of the following organizations: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of Interior, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, Provo River Water Users Association, Provo Reservoir Water Users Company, and outdoor interests representatives.

This proposed rule is available for public review and comment in the Federal Register for 60 days after publication. Interested parties can submit comments electronically at In the search box enter docket number FWS-R6-ES-2019-0026, and then click on the “Comment Now” button.


Thursday December 5, 2019 at 11:30am
Boat ramp at the mouth of the Provo River
Utah Lake State Park
4400 West Center Street, Provo, UT

WHY: The JSRIP has worked for several years to secure more than 20,000 acre-feet of water to keep water flowing in the Provo River and Hobble Creek to support the ecosystem the June sucker depend on. The JSRIP’s captive-rearing program has established innovative techniques for raising this unique species. As a result, more than 800,000 adult June sucker have been stocked into Utah Lake from hatcheries and refuge populations. A successful, multi-year effort to remove non-native carp from Utah Lake demonstrates the JSRIP’s proactive work to address the threat of invasive species. The JSRIP has removed more than 29 million pounds of carp from Utah Lake since 2010. Habitat restoration projects completed on Hobble Creek have been successful in supporting June sucker spawning in that tributary to Utah Lake. By giving June sucker access to quality habitat outside of the Provo River, the JSRIP has increased the resiliency of the fish to deal with threats to its existence.

“While this is an important milestone, there is still much work to be done to get to delisting and have the June sucker fully recovered,” said JSRIP Local Recovery Program Coordinator Michael Mills. “The Provo River Delta Restoration Project, which will break ground this spring, will move us even further towards that goal. This project will restore the connection between the Provo River and Utah Lake and provide the habitat needed for wild June sucker to spawn and for larval fish to survive and grow into adults.”

Photo & Interview Opp: There will be lots of great photo opportunities at the site, such as seeing the June sucker up close, watching members of the JSRIP release the June suckers into the river, and capturing images of the Provo River and Utah Lake in general. Members of the JSRIP will be available to be interviewed and answer questions.

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