Another judge rules that hatchery fish don’t count when determining ESA status

The federal government does not have to count hatchery fish along with wild fish when deciding whether to protect dwindling Northwest populations under the Endangered Species Act, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan ruled yesterday. In 2001, Hogan had ruled in favor of builders and farmers, saying that the feds should count hatchery fish toward recovery goals — which somehow makes recovery come a lot quicker. But he dashed the hopes of property-rights advocates with his declaration yesterday that his previous ruling “does not require [the National Marine Fisheries Service] to treat natural populations and hatchery stocks equally.” A property-rights law group will appeal Hogan’s decision; it’s also appealing a decision made in June by a different judge who went further, disallowing the Bush administration from counting hatchery-raised salmon along with wild ones when determining the species’ status under the ESA. Contacted for comment, the salmon just blew bubbles.