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Recovery Strategy for the Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Cottus sp.), Eastslope populations, in Canada

5. Population and distribution objectives

No evidence to date suggests that populations of Rocky Mountain Sculpin in the St. Mary and Milk river watersheds have suffered a serious decline or that the range has been reduced significantly since it was first identified. These populations appear to persist naturally in these two watersheds. Nevertheless, simply because of its limited distribution, the species may always be at some level of risk. The focus of recovery planning should be to ensure a self-sustaining population by reducing, eliminating or managing existing or potential threats. Given that population numbers and habitat do not appear to require recovery or restoration, a conservation approach based on protecting and maintaining existing populations and their habitats is recommended. As such, the population and distribution objective for the Rocky Mountain Sculpin is:

“To protect and maintain self-sustaining populations of the Rocky Mountain Sculpin within its current range in the St. Mary and Milk river watersheds in Canada.”

A number of approaches are proposed to meet the population and distribution objective. The approaches or objectives, take into consideration the uncertainty associated with our knowledge of the species’ taxonomy, biology, life history, abundance, and habitat requirements as well as the impact of identified threats to its survival in the St. Mary and Milk river watersheds. The recovery approaches are to:

  1. to quantify and maintain current population levels of Rocky Mountain Sculpin in the St. Mary and Milk river watersheds (within the population’s range of natural variation), as determined from a standardized survey program;
  2. to increase knowledge of the taxonomy, life history, basic biology and habitat requirements of the Rocky Mountain Sculpin, with a view towards refining the identification of and protecting critical habitat; and
  3. to increase our understanding of how human activities affect Rocky Mountain Sculpin survival, so that potential threats to the species can be avoided, eliminated, or mitigated.