How the Endangered Species Act has affected Utah’s wildlife

Dec 27, 2023, 5:00 PM

Image of June Suckers at the Fisheries Experiment Station in Logan, Utah. Nov. 8, 2006. The June Su...

June Suckers at the Fisheries Experiment Station in Logan, Utah. Nov. 8, 2006. Wednesday marks 50 years since the Endangered Species Act became law. That meant special protections for much of Utah's wildlife. Photo by Ray Grass, Deseret Morning News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday marks 50 years since the Endangered Species Act became law in the United States and initiated special protections for much of Utah’s wildlife.

Enacted in 1973, the Endanger Species Act has prevented the extinction of hundreds of species said Faith Heaton Jolley with the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources. Along with animal protection, she said it also helps promote the recovery of many species that were near extinction.

“There are currently 17 wildlife species in Utah that are on the federal endangered species list,” she told KSL NewsRadio. “Nine of those are endangered and eight are listed as threatened. The bulk of those actually are fish species.”

Heaton Jolley said Utah is working to get these species either off the list or to lower their threatened level. As of 2021, one fish species, the June sucker, moved from “endangered to “threatened,” according to Heaton Jolley.

“It’s (the June Sucker) just made, kind of, a remarkable comeback,” she said. “It was almost … completely wiped out. It’s only found in Utah Lake … We’ve partnered with a ton of other state and federal (agencies) to help recover this species.”

Among other efforts, the DWR has hatched June Suckers in some of its fish hatcheries, Heaton Jolley said.

“A big project that’s involved with that is the Provo River Delta Project that’s going on right now,” she said. “It’s gonna help their species continue into the future.”

Britt Johnson contributed to this story.

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How the Endangered Species Act has affected Utah’s wildlife