ABQ BioPark Releasing 54,000 Rio Grande Silvery Minnows
This is facility's 16th year participating in the conservation initiative for the endangered fish.
11/14/2016 - The ABQ BioPark's Aquatic Conservation Facility expects to release 54,000 endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows into the Rio Grande this year.
The fish are being released at sites within their current range (Middle Rio Grande) where there are low concentrations of silvery minnows in the river.
"The good news is that there are many areas of the Middle Rio Grande that do not need supplementation this year," said Kathy Lang, curator of the ABQ BioPark's Aquatic Conservation Facility. "The water management strategy used in that section of the river during this year's spawning season seems to have been successful."
Staff released 10,000 fish on Oct. 25 at the Pueblo of Santa Ana. The next release of 31,000 minnows is scheduled for today near Bosque del Apache, and another release of 13,000 minnows will occur later this month.
The Aquatic Conservation Facility is one of three in New Mexico that is cooperating to raise the endangered fish.
The silvery minnow, a 2- to 4-inch long fish, was once one of the most common species in the Rio Grande, but by 1994 its population had declined so greatly that it was added to the federal Endangered Species List.
Since it opened in 2003, the Aquatic Conservation Facility has released more than 700,000 minnows (including this year's release). The growing operation is staffed by three full-time employees and three seasonal workers and receives supplemental funding from grants.
The BioPark has been part of the species recovery program since 2000. Each spring, staff members collect eggs from the Rio Grande to hatch in tanks at the BioPark and breed additional minnows from previously collected broodstock. Minnows are tagged each fall before their release so the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) can monitor the program's success. Tagging also allows FWS to monitor some aspects of the minnow's behavior and how long the fish are surviving in different parts of the river.