Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Approves Development Plan That Safeguards Endangered Species

December 12, 2001


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

They live in Bexar County caves and are endangered. They resemble creatures out of a science-fiction movie, with eyes that are small or absent, with long, thin, transparent bodies appearing milky-white. Although these obscure creatures are rarely seen, concern for their protection is making them conspicuous.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) by La Cantera Development Company that allows for development on property in northern San Antonio bordering Loop 1604 and Interstate 10. In return, the company commits to several measures that contribute to the conservation of four endangered cave invertebrates. Invertebrates are animals with no backbone or internal skeleton.

Under the legally binding agreement, La Cantera Development Company can commercially develop their land without violating the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires endangered species and their habitats be protected but allows for incidental "taking" of a species under a permit process. A requirement is that impacts will be minimized and mitigated. While only two endangered cave species are known from the property, four endangered species will benefit from the HCP including two endangered beetles with no common name (Rhadine exilis and Rhadine infernalis), the Helotes mold beetle and a spider, Madla Cave meshweaver.

Under the plan, La Cantera will permanently preserve and protect several caves by gating, fencing and monitoring. The company will fund community outreach and education materials. Cave surveys will be conducted on a regular basis and funding will be provided to improve DNA identification techniques for the meshweavers. Cave meshweavers are difficult to identify in the hand unless it is an adult female, which is rarely encountered. La Cantera will also control fire ants that pose a significant threat by preying on cave dwelling invertebrates and competing for limited food sources.

The environment where these species live is the pathway between rainfall and a community

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