Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Extirpated from the United States, this fish still exists in low numbers within the Rio Yaqui drainage of northern Mexico. The primary threat to this species has been hybridization with channel catfish. Pollution from timber mills, mining, and industrial and domestic sources has also had an impact.
In 1987 and 1990, staff from the Fish and Wildlife Service's San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge assisted staff from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Dexter National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center in collecting broodstock from the Rio Yaqui drainage (Rio Sirupa and Rio Aros) in Mexico. The fish's genetic compositions were determined, and it was found that some contamination with channel catfish had occurred. However, 150 of the fish have been verified as pure Yaqui catfish. Thirty have been returned to Mexico, and 120 are at the Dexter National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center for propagation in 1993.
Production of pure stocks of Yaqui catfish is expected to be successful, and the species should be reintroduced in 1993 into the headwaters of the Yaqui drainage system, its historic habitat in the United States. In cooperation with the Mexican government, pure stock will be provided for propagation and reintroduction into historic habitat in Mexico. Although there is no apparent solution to the problem of hybridization, reintroduction in the United States will be concentrated in areas void of channel catfish.
Republic of Mexico: The Republic of Mexico provided catfish, of unknown genetic purity, from historic streams in Mexico. In return, the United States determined the genetic composition of the fish. Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and hybrid fish were discarded and pure strain Yaqui catfish were either maintained in the United States or returned to Mexico for use as broodstock. The Mexican government plans to produce and reintroduce pure stock Yaqui catfish into waters where this fish historically occurred in Mexico.
Plan under development.