US Fish and Wildlife Service


Low Flows Endanger Russian River Coho Salmon

The abnormally dry winter weather is causing problems for more than just ski resorts in the Sierra.

Coho salmon turn red in their spawning stage.

The endangered coho salmon, which has slowly been making a comeback, faces another threat, this time from low flows in the Russian River.

Bob Norberg of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat has been reporting on the plight of the coho.

A major difficulty brought by reduced rain is the fish are still in the Russian River’s main stem rather than in the tributaries where they are usually spawning by now.

As a result, the Sonoma County Water Agency is distributing 20,000 cards with pictures and identifying characteristics at places where fishing licenses are purchased, in addition to the 20,000 printed two years ago.

“We kept hearing from people that there were coho in the river and we were hearing that the anglers would not be able to tell the difference and they would keep the coho,” said Ann DuBay, water agency spokeswoman.

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Another Mountain Critter Confronts Climate Change

The San Bernardino flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel, pictured here. (Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service)

The San Francisco-based Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed petitions with the US Fish and Wildlife Service today to protect four mountaintop species from climate change, including the San Bernardino flying squirrel.  The CBD is requesting that the species be listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and that critical habitat be designated.

The San Bernardino flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel. Historically it has thrived in the high-elevation conifer forests of Southern California, in just two locations: the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains.  But according to Shaye Wolf, a biologist at CBD, the species has likely disappeared from the San Jacinto Mountains in the past few decades. Studies indicate that the remaining population is isolated in the San Bernardino Mountains, which is bordered on the north by the Mojave Desert, a formidable barrier to migration. Continue reading