Final Rule Paves Way for Topeka Shiner Reintroduction in Missouri
By Georgia Parham
Endangered Topeka shiners will be reintroduced in northern Missouri in a partnership among the Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. The Service published a final rule in the Federal Register on July 17, 2013, which paves the way for the reintroduction.
The reintroduction is part of an effort to restore populations of the small fish in Missouri in areas where the Topeka shiner once lived before its numbers declined. The reintroductions would be carried out on lands managed by Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.
The reintroduction will establish "non-essential, experimental" populations of Topeka shiners in northern Missouri. This designation gives wildlife managers more flexibility in working with the reintroduced Topeka shiners and provides nearby private landowners with reassurance that the presence of a protected species will not affect their activities.
Three nonessential experimental population areas are planned: the Big Muddy Creek, Little Creek and Spring Creek watersheds of Adair, Gentry, Harrison, Putnam, Sullivan, and Worth counties. All the reintroduction sites are on lands owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. Partners will collect Topeka shiners from existing populations and rear them in ponds this summer. Reintroductions will be made during September and October.
The Topeka shiner is a small minnow that lives in small to mid-size prairie streams in the central United States where it is usually found in pool and run areas. Suitable streams tend to have good water quality and cool to moderate temperatures.
Populations of the Topeka shiner have steadily declined, and the species now occupies only about 19 percent of its historical habitat, and only 15 percent of its former range in Missouri.
The Topeka shiner was designated a federally endangered species in 1998. Threats to the species include habitat destruction, sedimentation, and changes in water quality. Under the Endangered Species Act, plants and animals listed as endangered are at risk of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future.
You can find out more about Topeka shiners at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/fishes/Topekashiner/