Protect the Arctic Grayling From Extinction

Target: Gregory Gerlich, Fish and Aquatic Assistant Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: List the arctic grayling as endangered to ensure its continued existence in Montana.

The arctic grayling exists only in rapidly declining numbers in the upper Missouri River due to climate change and water withdrawal, and yet it is not listed as endangered. This freshwater fish is common throughout the Arctic and Pacific, but the sub-population in Montana is struggling to survive.

Dams and low water levels due to irrigation have added to the already present effects of rising temperatures, resulting in a consistent population decline for the grayling. Conservationists have been trying to get the grayling listed under the Endangered Species Act due to its threatened status, but the battle has been a losing one and the fish continues to receive no protection.

In past years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the grayling is in need of listing only to later retract that decision and deny endangered status. The population of these fish living in the upper Missouri River was formerly recognized as a “distinct population segment,” meaning that it stands apart from the much more prominent populations of arctic grayling that can be found across Alaska and northwest Canada.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also acknowledged that the low number of grayling was a direct result of stream dewatering and habitat degradation, warranting the fish a place on the endangered list. Yet all of this evidence was pushed aside in both 2010 and 2014 for arbitrary reasons, and the arctic grayling is still denied the protection that would come with being listed as endangered.

Organizations such as the Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biodiversity have been fighting for the arctic grayling to be listed as endangered for years, as the protection this would provide is essential for the Montana population’s survival. Sign the petition below to support their efforts to save the grayling and urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the arctic grayling under the Endangered Species Act.


Dear Mr. Gerlich,

The arctic grayling population in Montana’s upper Missouri River has been rapidly declining due to climate change and water withdrawal, and the fish must be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The grayling faces danger from dams and irrigation that lower water levels as well as rising temperatures in its habitat, and needs to be protected as an endangered species in order to survive.

The arctic grayling population in Montana should be viewed as a distinct population segment, separate from more numerous populations in Alaska and Canada, as it faces unique challenges dependent on its habitat. Stream dewatering and habitat degradation are having a direct effect on the grayling’s survival, and this species deserves an endangered status to protect it from further risks.

I am urging you to reconsider the Fish and Wildlife Service’s previous acknowledgments of the grayling’s threatened state and follow these analyses through to their natural conclusion. Please take action to protect this rapidly declining population and list the arctic grayling under the Endangered Species Act to ensure its survival.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Curtis Fry

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