Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service proposes to list two species of Missouri crayfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

September 16, 2020

Contact(s):

Georgia Parham, 812-593-8501, Georgia_Parham@fws.gov



Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the Big Creek crayfish and the St. Francis River crayfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The two lobster-like crustaceans are found within the St. Francis River watershed in southeastern Missouri.

The primary threat to the species is the woodland crayfish, a non-native invertebrate that was discovered within the St. Francis River tributary in 1984. Since its introduction, the woodland crayfish has spread throughout a large portion of the upper St. Francis River and has caused the range of the Big Creek and St. Francis crayfishes to contract. Although neither native crayfish has been completely displaced, their populations appear to be substantially reduced.

Degraded water quality is also a threat the species. The crayfishes occur in an area of Missouri where lead mining was once a major activity. Although most mining activity has stopped, waste from mining operations is still present, resulting in the contamination of fish and other aquatic life. Other water quality issues, such as sedimentation, also threaten the species.

The Service is proposing a special rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act, which  would allow incidental (unintentional) take of the species under certain circumstances. The agency is also proposing critical habitat for the two species. Critical habitat is an area that contains habitat features that are essential for the survival and recovery of a listed species. A critical habitat designation imposes no requirements on state or private actions where no federal funding, permits or approvals are required.

Proposed critical habitat would include all streams occupied by the crayfishes. These streams include the Upper St. Francis River upstream of Wappapello Dam and tributaries in Iron, Madison, St. Francois, Washington, and Wayne counties, Missouri.

The proposal, which appears in the Federal Register on September 17, 2020, opens a 60-day public comment period that ends on November 16, 2020. The proposed rule and supporting documents are available for comment online at regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R3–ES–2019–0020.

You may also submit comments by U.S. mail to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R3–ES–2019–0020
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

The Service will accept and consider comments and information that is received or is postmarked on or before November 16, 2020. The agency will accept comments submitted electronically using the federal eRulemaking Portal by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

Following the comment period, the agency will evaluate all information before making a final listing determination. Learn more about endangered species listed in the region.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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