Reintroducing Topeka Shiners in Missouri: An Interagency Partnership
By Paul McKenzie
Columbia Missouri Field Office
After a long effort to establish a non-essential experimental population, Topeka shiners were released, November 6, in pond and stream habitat at the Nature Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Pawnee Prairie, in northern Missouri.
The Service’s Columbia, Missouri Ecological Services Field Office, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nature Conservancy were partners in the effort.
A total of 3,300 fish were released into three ponds and one stream, on Dunn Ranch, and two ponds, at Pawnee Prairie. A small number of orange-spotted sunfish were also released because Topeka shiners are obligate spawners on sunfish nests.
Pond habitats mirror off-channel habitats that occur in the northern parts of the Topeka shiner’s range. Personnel at Missouri Department of Conservation’s Lost Valley Hatchery in Warsaw have been successful in propagating the species in pond habitat.
Topeka shiners were propagated at Lost Valley Hatchery and hauled to pond and stream habitats on Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie. Fish were transferred from a hatchery truck to a cooler before being released. The establishment of a non-essential experimental population is part of Missouri’s recovery goal to maintain seven populations of the species in the state as outlined in the agency’s 2010: “A Ten Year Strategic Plan for the Recovery of the Topeka Shiner in Missouri”. It is hoped that Topeka shiners will successfully spawn in ponds at Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie.
The release followed the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register on July 17, establishing a non-essential experimental population under Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-17/pdf/2013-17087.pdf).
Without the establishment of non-essential experimental populations in Missouri, it is probable that this critically imperiled species will become extirpated in the state.