British Columbia's Thompson River steelhead have been in deep trouble since the early 1990s. Now, after decades of collapsing numbers, and with a fragile run hovering in the hundreds, anglers are petitioning local politicians to get behind the beleaguered fish and consider protecting it under Canada's Species At Risk Act (SARA).

Len Piggin, president of Kamloops Fly Fishers this month filed an application with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), kind of like if an agency with the sole job of managing the Endangered Species Act in the U.S.

“We need somebody to do something,” Piggin said. “If COSEWIC says they’re endangered, everyone will stand up and take notice.” COSEWIC is favorable to investigating the issue, but years of studies and bureaucracy lie ahead. Among the actions recommended by Piggin and the Kamloops Fly Fishers is an end to the fall chum fishery on the lower Fraser River that's been responsible for heavy bycatch of Thompson bound steelhead. Habitat restoration is also needed on several Thompson spawning tributaries.

Piggin is frustrated with the lack of government interest in the Thompson. But recently Cathy McCleod, the Member of Parliament for the Kamloops/Thompson/Caribou region, has shown concern for the Thompson’s plight and plans to take the cause to the federal government.

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