The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the public comment period seeking public input on a proposal to list the toothless blindcat and widemouth blindcat, two cave-dwelling catfish species from the San Antonio segment of the Edwards Aquifer in Bexar County, Texas, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The public comment period will now be open for an additional 30 days, closing Jan. 8, 2024.
The Service is committed to having a robust public engagement process as it considers a proposal to list the Edwards Aquifer blindcats as endangered. Reopening the public comment period gives all interested parties additional time to provide comments.
The blindcats were first discovered in the early 1900s from fish ejected from groundwater wells. They are among the smallest catfishes in Texas, measuring no more than a couple of inches. Like other cave-adapted animals, they lack pigment and developed eyes. These fishes inhabit a very deep and little studied region of the aquifer that is inaccessible to humans.
Given the great depth of their habitat, neither species survives ejection from groundwater wells tapping deep portions of the Edwards Aquifer. The widemouth blindcat was last collected from a well in 1984, while the toothless blindcat has been collected in small numbers from a single well as recently as 2023.
The Service encourages any interested parties to provide input and substantive comments during the reopened public comment period. The notice is available in the Federal Register.