The endangered Razorback sucker, a native fish in the Colorado River basin, is slowly making a comeback that could merit a positive reclassification.

The Razorback sucker was first listed endangered in California in 1974. It has been a federally protected fish since 1991 and was rated critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation.

Conservation efforts in the upper Colorado River basin, including a hatchery in Grand Junction and another in Vernal, Utah have proven successful enough the Razorback sucker may soon be reclassified from endangered to threatened.

The causes of the near extinction of the razorback sucker are varied and reversing that meant taking multiple actions including;

  • Managing water to provide adequate instream flows to create beneficial water flow
  • Construction of fish passages and screens at major diversion dams to provide endangered fish access to hundreds of miles of critical habitat
  • Restoring floodplain habitat
  • Monitoring fish population numbers
  • Managing non-native fish who eat young razorback suckers

Those actions have proven to work as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recent species status assessment and 5-year review concluded the risk of extinction is low.

The assessment and review found established razorback sucker populations in the Colorado, Green and San Juan Rivers. The fish are also present in Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu.