NANFA-- Dolly Varden news

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 23 Jan 2001 15:37:41 -0400

For Release: January 9, 2001


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is proposing to
protect the fish Dolly Varden in the Coastal-Puget Sound region of Washington
under the "similarity of appearance" provision of the Endangered Species Act,
because the Dolly Varden so closely resembles the bull trout, which is listed as
a threatened species.

The proposal would extend some of the Act's protections to Washington's
Coastal-Puget Sound population of Dolly Varden as if it were a threatened
species. Under the Act, a species may be treated as if it were endangered or
threatened when it so closely resembles a protected species that law enforcement
personnel would have substantial difficulty in distinguishing between the two
species. If the proposal is finalized, it will help eliminate situations where
people mistakenly "take" bull trout when they believe they are "taking" Dolly
Varden. "Take" is defined in the ESA as killing or harming a protected species
or destroying or substantially altering its habitat.

Dolly Varden would only be treated as a listed species where its range overlaps
with that of the Coastal-Puget Sound population of bull trout in Washington

"In the Coastal-Puget Sound areas, Dolly Varden occupy the same habitat as bull
trout and are so similar that the two species cannot easily be told apart in the
field," said Anne Badgley, regional director of the Service's Pacific region.
"We are proposing protection for Dolly Varden to increase the chances that bull
trout will be able to recover."

Under the proposal, Dolly Varden would be covered by the existing special rule
for bull trout, which exempts certain activities from the ESA's "take"
prohibition. These exemptions include fishing activities authorized under State,
National Park Service, or Native American tribal laws. Fishing for Dolly Varden
in other areas, outside of the Coastal-Puget Sound area covered by the bull
trout listing, would not be affected.

The Service listed five distinct population segments of bull trout as threatened
throughout the coterminous United States on November 1, 1999. Dolly Varden occur
with the distinct population segment of bull trout found in rivers and streams
of coastal Washington and the Puget Sound region.

Dolly Varden and bull trout are members of the char (Salvelinus) subgroup of the
salmon family. They were once considered to be one species under the name Dolly
Varden. Scientific research has recently separated the two species, but even
specialists have difficulty in telling them apart visually.
Char have light-colored spots on a darker background, just the opposite of the
pattern on salmon and trout, which have dark spots on a light background. Creamy
to pale yellow spots cover the back, and red or orange spots cover the sides.
The fins have white or cream-colored margins. This unique coloration is
particularly striking in the male during spawning and led to the common name
Dolly Varden, in reference to a colorfully clothed character in the Charles
Dickens novel Barnaby Rudge.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the two species together
as "native char" under state fisheries regulations.

The Service published its proposal to list the Dolly Varden as threatened due to
similarity of appearance to bull trout in the Coastal-Puget Sound region of
Washington in today's Federal Register. The public is invited to submit written
comments until March 9, 2001, to: Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Western Washington Office, 510 Desmond Dr. SE, Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1263.

The Western Washington Office is based in Lacey, Washington, and addresses
Federal fish and wildlife issues from the crest of the Cascades to the Pacific
Ocean, and from the Canadian border to the Columbia River. The office is
responsible for the listing, recovery and consultation on species protected
under the Endangered Species Act; the development of Habitat Conservation Plans;
implementation of the Service portion of the Northwest Forest Plan within the
range of the northern spotted owl in Washington; issues involving migratory
birds and other species protected by Federal laws; environmental contaminants
assessment and spill response; fish and wildlife habitat restoration; review of
proposed Federal projects, including Clean Water Act activities; monitoring and
evaluation of species and effects of projects on species; and technical
assistance on fishery resource issues.

/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,