The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have proposed endangered species protection for the Zuni Bluehead Sucker. The proposal includes 293 miles of streams considered critical habitat for the fish in New Mexico, and Arizona.
A biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity, Tierra Curry says the Zuni Bluehead Sucker is only found in the Zuni river watershed in New Mexico and in the Little Colorado River watershed, and Canyon de Chelly watershed found in Arizona.
“It’s important in the food web because it scrapes algae of the rocks and plants. So it makes the water cleaner, and then in coverts that algae into a food source for the bigger things that eat it, like the bigger fish and birds.”
The species was first identified as being endangered since 1985. In 2011 the Center reached a legal settlement with the Fish and Wildlife service to get decisions for all of the species that had been on a protection waiting list in the next four years. Curry says, the Zuni Bluehead sucker is one of 200 species that will get protection within the next couple of years.
Once the Zuni Bluehead Sucker receives endangered species, and habitat protection, any Federally-funded or permitted project will have to consult with Fish and Wildlife Services to make sure that it doesn’t hurt the fish.
The Center claims the fish's habitat has been lost and degraded due to water pollution, declining water levels, and things like, development and erosion.