Las Vegas Sun

April 16, 2014

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Wildlife:

Endangered fish population native to Clark County is angling for a comeback

Things are going swimmingly for the growing population of a tiny, endangered fish that is only found in Clark County.

In a Tuesday press release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the Moapa dace's population is improving. According to the USFWS, there are 1,727 Moapa dace in the world, 501 more than they found in February.

The tally is almost quadruple the amount of fish counted in 2008. The population, which is protected by the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, hit an all-time low in February 2008, when the survey only counted 458 fish, the release said.

The Moapa dace, which are only found in the headwaters of Muddy River in northeast Clark County, begin their lives in warm spring outflows and move to cooler water downstream as adults.

Adult Moapa dace eventually return to warm springs to reproduce. Its population is traditionally higher in the summer months, according to the release.

A USFWS recovery plan for the Moapa dace aimed to restore 75 percent of historic habitat; have effective control over non-native, invasive fish; and count at least 6,000 adult fish in five spring systems for five years.

To achieve those goals, the SNWA worked with its partners to install non-native fish barriers, eradicate exotic species, restore natural stream flow dynamics and improve connectivity between springs and streams, the release said.

The survey, which was conducted in cooperation with the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Nevada Department of Wildlife, is conducted twice a year — in August and February — in the Warm Springs area.

Biologists from the agencies conduct the snorkel survey of 17 stream reaches on the Warm Springs Natural Area, Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge and private land.

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