Species at Risk Act

Consultation Workbook on the proposed listing of the Mountain Sucker (Milk River populations)

Proposed Risk Status: Threatened
February 2013

Illustration of the Mountain sucker © Joseph R. Tomelleri

Illustration of the Mountain Sucker: © Joseph R. Tomelleri

Mountain Sucker (Milk River populations)

Common Name: Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations
Scientific name: Catostomus platyrhynchus
SARAStatus: Under consideration
COSEWICStatus:
Threatened * (November, 2010)
Region: Saskatchewan, Alberta

* Notes: Mountain Sucker populations in Canada are separated into three designatable units (DU), and are classified by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) as follows:

  1. The Saskatchewan-Nelson River populations – Not at Risk
  2. Milk River populations - Threatened
  3. Pacific populations – Special Concern

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The Mountain Sucker has the following characteristics:

  • A sub-terminal mouth, no teeth and fleshy lips (a trait characteristic of suckers);
  • Snout is broad and heavy;
  • Eyes are small;
  • The body is elongate, cylindrical and somewhat compressed;
  • A relatively small body, with total lengths averaging between 127 to 152 mm. The longest length ever recorded was an Alberta specimen at 232 mm;
  • The dorsal colouring is typically dark green to grey or brown. The belly is pale yellow to white;
  • There is a dark green to black lateral band and/or five dorsal blotches of fine black pigment on the sides; and
  • During the spawning season, spawning fish develop an orange to red lateral band and both male and females develop “bumps” (tubercles) on their fins.

DISTRIBUTION

The Mountain Sucker is found only in the western United States and Canada, typically at higher elevations, although they are found in lowland and prairie streams as well. In the U.S., it is found in the Green, upper Columbia, Yakima, upper Sacramento and upper Missouri river systems, as well as the Lahontan and Bonneville Basins, and in tributaries of the Colorado River, as far south as Utah. In Canada, it can be found in the Columbia, Fraser, Saskatchewan and upper Missouri River Systems (Milk River). Although locally abundant in some selected areas, the Mountain Sucker is not abundant in most Canadian waters where they are at the northern extent of their range.

Map of the distribution of the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations, in Canada

Figure 2: Map of the distribution of the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations, in Canada.

HABITAT & LIFE HISTORY

Mountain Suckers are considered a cool-water species, and are associated with small streams at elevations between 20 to 800 m above sea level, although they occur occasionally in lakes, reservoirs and large rivers. Flows are moderate. The materials along the bottoms of the waterbody (substrates) vary, but are typically characterized by gravel or cobble. Spawning occurs in late spring or early summer in riffles of moderate- to-fast flowing water, often adjacent to pools. Spawners use the riffle areas, but return to deeper pools once spawning is complete. No nest is built, and the eggs are scattered over river or stream bottoms. Incubation of the eggs is likely between 8 to 14 days, with the frys’ growth rates variable between streams. Females tend to be larger, and live longer than males. Males live about seven years. Females live about nine years.

DIET

Diet consists of a variety of food items, including plankton, small invertebrates and microscopic organic matter they scrape off of rocks.

THREATS

Threats to the Mountain Sucker include habitat loss and degraded habitat quality as a result of agricultural and livestock practices; urbanization and industrial development; water management practices and irrigation; and the introduction of aquatic invasive species. In south-central British Columbia and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, risks relating to water availability may become an even greater threat under drought and climate change conditions.

Listing a species under the Act requires a regulatory order and, so, triggers the need for a cost-benefit and stakeholder impact analysis as per the 2012 Government of Canada Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management. The Directive requires, among other things, an analysis of the benefits and costs of regulation. For a low impact regulatory action, a short qualitative analysis is required rather than a full benefit-cost analysis. Listing the Mountain Sucker – Milk River population as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act is considered low-impact.

For more details, please contact the SARA Regional Manager.

Socio-Economic Considerations

SUMMARY OF THE COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS

The purpose of the socio-economic analysis is to examine the incremental costs and benefits to Canadians that result from listing the Mountain Sucker (Milk River population) as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.

When a species is listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act, the general prohibitions take effect, a recovery strategy and an action plan are prepared, critical habitat is identified, critical habitat is protected once identified and a ministerial order has been put in place, permits/agreements authorizing activities affecting a listed wildlife species can be entered into, and there can be exemptions for activities that are permitted by a recovery strategy or action plan.

The Mountain Sucker is not commercially or recreationally fished to any great extent; consequently the general prohibitions are not anticipated to have a significant incremental socio-economic impact. Although it is possible that the Mountain Sucker is used for bait in Canada, any ban on using it for bait would likely be ineffective as it is very difficult to determine the difference between juvenile suckers; consequently, such a ban, if implemented, is not anticipated to have a significant impact.

By virtue of its co-occurrence with the Rocky Mountain Sculpin, and to a lesser extent the Western Silvery Minnow, it already benefits from the protection provided by the Species at Risk Act. In particular, critical habitat for the Mountain Sucker is anticipated to overlap with the critical habitat of the Rocky Mountain Sculpin. To the extent that the Mountain Sucker co-occurs with the Stonecat, it also benefits from habitat protection provided by Alberta’s Wildlife Act. Consequently, the critical habitat protection provided by the Species at Risk Act is not anticipated to have a significant incremental socio-economic impact.

If the Mountain Sucker is listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act, a recovery strategy must be prepared. Such a strategy is likely to overlap to a very great extent with recovery strategies for the Rocky Mountain Sculpin and Western Silvery Minnow. Consequently, the incremental costs of developing and implementing the recovery strategy are anticipated to be low.

In summary, given the very limited degree to which Mountain Sucker is fished, the habitat protection already provided to the Mountain Sucker due to its co-occurrence with the Rocky Mountain Sculpin and other protected species, and the extent to which the critical habitat and recovery strategy for this species are anticipated to overlap with those of other species, listing the Mountain Sucker as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act is anticipated to result in low or negligible socio-economic impacts.

Let us know what you think

This workbook is part of a public consultation process to get your feedback on whether to add the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations to the Species at Risk Act(SARA) List. Your answers to the following questions will help determine the federal Government’s decision.

It is important that you understand how the proposed listing can help to protect and recover Mountain Sucker, and how it may impact on your activities. As a legally threatened species, automatic prohibitions of SARA would apply.

These prohibitions make it illegal to kill, harm, harass, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened species. It is also generally illegal to damage or destroy the places these species live. These prohibitions do not apply to species of Special Concern.

If a wildlife species is added to the SARA List as an Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened species, the federal government must prepare a strategy for its recovery. The recovery strategy outlines known threats to the species, identifies the habitat it needs to survive, and highlights gaps in knowledge. It also sets a goal for the species’ recovery.

A recovery strategy must be completed within two years if it is listed as Threatened. Note that the recovery strategy process will also involve further consultation.

How to use this questionnaire:

Please provide your responses to the questions on the following pages. Your comments can be attached to this workbook. We welcome feedback from all individuals, regardless of whether you are involved in activities that may or may not be affected by this listing.

Please also use extra sheets to expand your answers as needed.

Please return your completed comments by April 30, 2013 to the following federal Species at Risk office:

SARA Regional Manager
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
501 University Crescent
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N6
Email: fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Toll-free: 1-866-538-1609

Or provide comments directly through the SARA Registry.

The information you provide is important.
We appreciate the time and effort you take to complete this questionnaire.

Proposed SARA Listing of Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations

1. Are you in favour of listing the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations as a Threatened species?

checkbox Yes
checkbox No
checkbox Undecided

Please explain your decision.





2. The following questions provide us with information about how you value the Mountain Sucker. Please choose the response that best describes your opinion.

a. I believe it is important to maintain the Mountain Sucker so that future generations can enjoy them.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

b. I believe the Mountain Sucker plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

c. I believe the Mountain Sucker has social and/or cultural significance to my community.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

d. I believe the Mountain Sucker is an important part of our national heritage.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

e. I believe the Mountain Sucker is an important subsistence food source.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

f. I believe the Mountain Sucker has economic value (recreational or commercial values).

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

g. I believe the Mountain Sucker provides job opportunities (e.g. tourism) to the local economy.

checkbox Strongly disagree   checkbox  Disagree   checkbox  Neutral   checkbox  Agree   checkbox  Strongly agree

h. Others? (please specify)





3. The following questions provides us with information about how you perceive the following threats to the Mountain Sucker. Please choose the response that best describes your opinion.

a. Farming/ Agriculture: Threats to species includes the modification of habitat (e.g. pollution, sedimentation, salinization, increased logging in natural habitats, water turbidity, reduction in oxygen levels, drainage works, and changes in water levels due to irrigation).

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

b. Ecosystem modification (Altered flow regimes): Water management and alteration of natural flow patterns can modify habitat areas and migration routes.

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

c. Ecosystem modification (Urban development and land use practices): Damage to habitat and poor water quality resulting from urban development and agricultural practices.

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

d. Infrastructure development: This threat refers to the loss and fragmentation of fish habitat from man-made barriers, such as dams, that limit movement between feeding and spawning areas.

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

e. Invasive species: Threats to species includes competition with native wild native populations for resources and shelter.

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

f. Climate change: Threats to species include the modification of habitats (e.g. water temperature, salinity, distribution of ice, breeding and feeding grounds); negative impacts on reproduction seasons; modification of food chain flows (e.g. plankton species).

checkbox Very low    checkbox Low    checkbox Moderate    checkbox High    checkbox Very high

g. Other: Do you have any other comments about other possible threats to the Mountain Sucker that may threaten their survival or recovery?





4. The following questions provide us with information about how the listing of the Mountain Sucker could impact you or your activities.

a. Based on what you have learned about the Species at Risk Act, do you think adding the Mountain Sucker to the SARA List would impact your activites?

checkbox Not at all    checkbox Not much    checkbox Don’t know    checkbox Yes, a bit    checkbox Yes, a lot

Why?





5. Do you feel that the listing of the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations will have economic, social and/or ceremonial impacts to you?

checkbox Not at all    checkbox Not much    checkbox Don’t know    checkbox Yes, a bit    checkbox Yes, a lot

In what way?





6. If your activity is impacted by listing the Mountain Sucker, would you be willing to change your activity?

checkbox Not at all    checkbox Not much    checkbox Don’t know    checkbox Yes, a bit    checkbox Yes, a lot

How?





7. All Canadian households, as well as industry, pay for the protection of all legally listed species under SARA. How much would you be willing to pay (in Canadian dollars) each year for the conservation, protection and recovery efforts for the Mountain Sucker, Milk River populations?

checkbox $0   checkbox $10   checkbox $20   checkbox $50   checkbox $100   checkbox more than $100

 

This last section is personal and confidential. We recognize that it is not insignificant to ask people to share personal information. To that end, we will adhere to strict ethical standards of privacy in doing further research with this information. Unless directed otherwise by the respondents, no information will be reported that can be attributed to any particular individual.

9. In what capacity are you completing this questionnaire?

checkbox  Individual    checkbox  Representative of a group

10. Where do you live?

checkbox British Columbia
checkbox Alberta
checkbox Saskatchewan
checkbox Manitoba
checkbox Quebec
checkbox Nova Scotia
checkbox New Brunswick
checkbox Prince Edward Island
checkbox Newfoundland & Labrador
checkbox Yukon
checkbox Northwest Territories
checkbox Nunavut

11. Which sector do you represent?

checkbox Aboriginal community
checkbox Aboriginal organization
checkbox Academic community
checkbox Agriculture/ Farming
checkbox Environmental organization
checkbox Fishing – aquaculture
checkbox Fishing – commercial
checkbox Fishing – recreational
checkbox Forestry
checkbox Government (specify level)
checkbox Hydro-electric
checkbox Manufacturing
checkbox Oil and gas
checkbox Professional services

checkbox Other ____________________

12. What is your age?

checkbox  Under 20
checkbox  20 - 29
checkbox  30 - 39
checkbox  40 - 49
checkbox  50 - 59
checkbox  60 or over

13. What is your gender?

checkbox  Female   checkbox  Male

Please add any other comments or concerns (add additional sheets if necessary) that you would like to have considered.









Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.

| Introductory Page |