|David Starovoytov's Kentucky arrow darter.|
This week, we announced the winners of the 2015 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. Let’s take a look at the animals they drew.
David Starovoytov, a sixth-grader from California, won the Grand Prize with his art of a Kentucky arrow darter, a beautiful fish found only in eastern Kentucky. During the breeding season, the males are blue-green with scarlet spots and scarlet-orange vertical bars on their body. The Kentucky arrow darter is a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Federal candidates warrant ESA protection but are sometimes precluded from listing by other higher priority listing actions (other species are more imperiled and take priority). Each year, the Service publishes a list and summarizes the current status for all candidate species in its Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR). The CNOR helps landowners and natural resource managers plan conservation to address threats to candidate species. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has identified the Kentucky arrow darter as a species of greatest conservation need and has been hard at work conserving it through captive breeding and other projects. A key threat to the Kentucky arrow darter is degradation of habitat through surface coal mining and other human activities. Changes in water quality have a profound impact on all aquatic species, including the Kentucky arrow darter.