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Research Document - 2013/062

Information in support of a recovery potential assessment of Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Cottus sp.), Eastslope populations, in Alberta

By D.A. Watkinson and D.A. Boguski


In Canada, the Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Cottus sp.) is distributed east of the Rocky Mountains in the St. Mary and Milk river systems, Alberta, and west of the Rocky Mountains in the Flathead River system, British Columbia. In August 2006, the two populations of Rocky Mountain Sculpin from the St. Mary and Milk river systems of Alberta—also referred to as “Eastslope” Sculpin—were officially listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). In December 2007, this species, identified as the St. Mary Shorthead Sculpin, was similarly listed as Threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act. This small, bottom-dwelling fish is considered to be at risk of extinction in Alberta due to its very restricted area of occurrence in the St. Mary and Milk river systems where it has been impacted by habitat loss and degradation from water diversion, conditions that have been exacerbated in recent years by drought. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has undertaken a Recovery Potential Assessment that summarizes our current understanding of the distribution, abundance, and population trends of Rocky Mountain Sculpin, Eastslope populations, in Alberta. Identification of threats to both sculpin and its habitat, and measures to mitigate these impacts, are also reported. This information may be used to inform the development of recovery documents, and to support decision-making with regards to the issuance of permits, agreements and related conditions under the SARA. 

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