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Zuni Bluehead Sucker Receives Protection, Which Might Not Be Enough

zuni bluehead sucker habitatThe Zuni bluehead sucker is a mid-sized fish that lives in the streams of northwestern New Mexico, but it isn’t doing as well as it once was. Deforestation, mining, livestock grazing, and other effects of human development have destroyed a large amount of its habitat. This week, the fish received protection under the Endangered Species Act. The designation will enable cooperative work with local governments and the Zuni and Navajo reservations to protect remaining habitat and restore some of the fish’s original territory.

Still, this development might not be enough to save the Zuni bluehead sucker.

A significant portion of the degradation of the fish’s habitat is taking place as a consequence of climate change. Global warming, caused by human industrial and transportation activity, is leading the Southwest United States to become even more arid than it was before. The Southwest’s water will disappear faster than it already would have under unsustainable business plans such as the massive pumping of groundwater to feed huge herds of cattle in concentrated feed lots in the middle of the desert and a proposal recently announced by Nestle to build a drinking water factory in hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona, which would divert massive amounts of the city’s tap water and resell it under the name “Pure Life”.

Certainly, without Endangered Species protection, the fish wouldn’t stand much of a chance. Government protection and rehabilitation has brought back wild populations of the California condor in the Southwest. Perhaps the Zuni bluehead can make it too.

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