The Yellowstone cutthroat trout exists in a mere 10% of its historic range in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. As a result of habitat loss, disease and hybridization with non-native trout the outlook of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout appears grim.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is, among other things, designed to protect the habitat of an imperiled species when the species existence is threatened by the destruction of its natural environment. The Center for Biological Diversity, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Ecology Center and Pacific Rivers Council filed a petition to have the species listed. Despite ample scientific data provided in the petition that demonstrates Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations are in decline because of years of mining, logging and agriculture within the fish’s range, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) steadfastly refuses to consider placing the Yellowstone cutthroat trout on the threatened or endangered species list.
In December 2004, Earthjustice convinced a federal district court judge in Colorado that the FWS violated the ESA when it peremptorily rejected a petition to list the species. A new decision is expected in February of 2006.