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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SACRAMENTO

Steelhead trout remain protected

October 28, 2008|Associated Press

A federal judge on Monday upheld protections for wild steelhead trout in California rivers, rejecting an argument by forestry groups that the success of hatchery-raised steelhead has made the population sufficiently robust.

U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno disagreed. In his 168-page ruling, he said hatchery-raised fish are no substitute for wild steelhead.

Steelhead are listed as either threatened or endangered in different parts of California.

In a related claim, the judge also rejected a bid by Central Valley farmers to remove steelhead trout from the federal Endangered Species Act. The farmers pointed to an abundance of resident rainbow trout, steelhead that do not migrate to the ocean.

The Modesto Irrigation District had argued that rainbow trout are essentially the same species as wild steelhead. Wanger agreed with federal wildlife scientists, who have said wild steelhead are distinct and indispensable to the survival of the species.

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