FAQ: About the June Sucker

When and why did the June sucker become federally listed as an endangered species?
The June sucker was federally listed as an endangered species with critical habitat in April 1986. Factors contributing to its endangered status include impacts to its natural habitat, water development, and predation or competition with nonnative fish. The June sucker was listed as endangered due to its localized distribution, failure to recruit new adult fish to the population, and because of threats to its continued survival. In an effort to ensure against the threat of extinction the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program was established.

Why is it called a June sucker?
June sucker received their name because their spawning season is primarily during the month of June. However, the timeframe for June sucker spawning is dependent on the climate conditions of their spawning locations and can begin as early as April and end as late as July.

Why save the June sucker?
June sucker are an important asset to the well-being of Utah Lake and are considered an “indicator species.” Essentially, the survival of June sucker “indicates” the state of Utah Lake and its entire ecosystem.  It’s vitally important to help this species reestablish a native ecosystem, in which they can survive, and demonstrate the true state of Utah Lake’s ecosystem.

What makes the June sucker so unique?
In addition to its role as an indicator species for Utah Lake, the June sucker has unique physical features that differentiate it from other suckers. The mouth of the June sucker is adapted for feeding on single-celled organisms (zooplankton) in the middle of the water column, while the mouth of the Utah sucker, with its fleshy lips, is adapted for bottom feeding. Special adaptations, called gill rakers, filter plankton from the water as it passes by June sucker gills.

How does recovery of the June sucker benefit the community?
In addition to the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program’s efforts to recover the June sucker, our efforts also benefit other species and the entire Utah Lake ecosystem, and this is good for the human population.  Our efforts have environmental, recreational, economic and cultural implications