Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Reclassification of Fish Native to Western Kentucky
Conservation efforts by the Service and diverse state, local and federal partners are paying off in the Bayou de Chien system
Media Contacts

Following a review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to downlist the relict darter, a small fish native to the Bayou de Chien stream system in western Kentucky, from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service is also proposing a 4(d) rule that tailors protections for the darter and making available a draft recovery plan for review and comment. 

“Species like the relict darter have benefitted from focused conservation efforts from our partners and with the assistance of the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program,” said the Service’s Regional Director, Leopoldo Miranda-Castro. “Despite the challenges that the species has faced over the decades, concerted conservation efforts inspired by the ESA have paid off.” 

The relict darter was first listed as an endangered species in 1993 due to habitat deterioration and water pollution and siltation, resulting from stream channelization and poor land use practices. Since then, the darter has benefitted from conservation actions in the Bayou de Chien stream system.  

The Service has worked to recover the darter with multiple agencies and private partners, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and The Nature Conservancy. The Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program played a leading role in providing technical and financial assistance to agencies and private landowners. 

The Service is seeking comments on the darter’s proposed downlisting to threatened and the proposed 4(d) rule, which tailors take prohibitions to those that benefit the species. This targeted approach minimizes regulatory burdens and reduces ESA conflicts by allowing some activities to continue that may benefit or not significantly harm the darter, while focusing efforts on the threats that slow the species’ recovery.  

This proposed rule and supporting documents, including the 5-year review, the draft Recovery Plan, and the species status assessment (SSA) report are available at under Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2021–0093. The Service will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 2, 2022. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown below by April 18, 2022. 


Lee Andrews, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office, 330 West Broadway, Suite 265, Frankfort, KY, 40601. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. 

For more information on the relict darter, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions

Story Tags

Endangered and/or Threatened species