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Angular dwarf crayfish. Photo by Chris Lukhaup, USDA Forest Service.

Endangered Species Act Protection Not Needed for Four Southeastern Animals

The Endangered Species Act allows anyone to request, or petition, the Service to add a plant or animal to the federal endangered species list. The Service was petitioned to place all four of these animals on the list, and all but the crayfish have been considered candidates for the threatened and endangered species list. The Service is in the midst of a multi-year work plan to address these species, and evaluating these animals is part of the scheduled 2016 workload.

In order to be placed on the endangered species list, a plant or animal must face threats leading to endangerment or extinction in the foreseeable future. The Service determined these animals aren’t facing threats that warrant placing them on the endangered species list.

About the petitions

When we are petitioned to provide federal protection to a species, our biologists review the information presented by the petitioner as well as the information in our files prior to the date of the petition, to determine whether a closer look at the species’ status is advisable.

The four species included in these findings came from the following petitions to list them under the Endangered Species Act:

2004 Petition to list 225 Candidate plant and animal species: Cover letter, full petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. Includes the Icebox Cave crayfish and the Clifton Cave beetle. 2010 Petition to list 404 Aquatic, Riparian, and Wetland species from the Center for Biological Diversity. Includes the angular dwarf crayfish.

Not substantial findings

All four petitioned species will not be given further consideration for federal protection at this time. If you have further questions, visit our information page on 90-day findings or contact Andreas Moshogianis at andreas_moshogianis@fws.gov or 404-679-7119.

Angular dwarf crayfish

Federal Register docket: FWS–R4–ES–2011–0049.

A close up photo of a semi translucent gray-silver crayfish walking on rocky substrate.
Angular dwarf crayfish. Photo by Chris Lukhaup, USDA Forest Service.

Where does the angular dwarf crayfish live?

  • Baldwin, Mobile, and Washington counties, Alabama
  • George County, Mississippi

The crayfish is found in heavily vegetated ponds, sluggish streams, and backwater areas. Though little is known about the crayfish, its habitat is abundant, and there’s no indication that it faces any significant threats.

Clifton Cave beetle

Federal Register docket: FWS–R4–ES–2016–0032.

Where does the Clifton Cave beetle live?

  • Clifton Cave and Richardson’s Spring Cave, Woodford County, Kentucky

Although the Clifton Cave beetle is known from only two caves, it faces no known threats leading to extinction or endangerment in the foreseeable future. Clifton Cave was discovered when construction workers inadvertently created an opening to it. That opening has since been closed, leaving no known entrance large enough for humans, likely eliminating the possibility of direct human impact. In Richardson’s Spring Cave, biologists have actually seen more beetles recently than when the animal was first discovered there. Both caves are situated in a rural landscape where little landscape-level change is anticipated.

Icebox Cave beetle

Federal Register docket: FWS–R4–ES–2016–0032.

Where does the Icebox Cave beetle live?

  • Icebox Cave, Bell County, Kentucky

Although the Icebox Cave beetle is only known from a single cave, a 2015 search effort found the beetle persisting at numbers consistent with previous searches. The cave shows signs of historical human visitation, but it shows no evidence of more recent visitation or use, lowering concerns about direct human impact. This cave also is found in a rural landscape where little landscape-level change is foreseen.

Virgin Islands coqui

Federal Register docket: FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0125.

Where does the Virgin Islands Coqui live?

  • Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Great Dog, Beef Island, and Frenchman’s Cay in the British Virgin Islands

Due to the lack of population data, it is unknown whether the species is naturally rare or is in decline. This may have led to the perception that the population trends of the coquí could possibly be decreasing, but that perception is likely due, in part, to the low level of survey effort expended for these species and difficulty in collecting them. Recent evidence of continued persistence of this species, in conjunction with the lack of information to conclude that threats are acting on the species, including the fact that the species resides on 6 of 9 islands leads us to conclude that the species is not in danger of extinction, either now or in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range.

Public role in conservation

How can people support the ongoing conservation of these beetles and other cave animals?

  • Proper disposal of chemicals: Caves are connected by subterranean networks that are rarely obvious above ground and can stretch for miles. Pollution entering one of these networks at one point, say a sinkhole in a field, can contaminate ground water at a cave miles away, harming the animals in that cave.
  • Staying out of caves with known rare species: A certain way to avoid trampling is simply to stay out of caves with rare animals. Additionally, in order to minimize the chance of people inadvertently carrying white-nose syndrome between caves, the Service recommends staying out of all caves.
  • Gating: One way landowners can control access to caves on their land is to install metal gates that allow bats and other animals to move in and out, but prevent people from entering.

How can people support the conservation of the crayfish and other aquatic animals?

  • Plant native trees and shrubs along bodies of water and allow these areas to grow naturally. The root systems hold bank soil in place; branches and leaves provide shade that lowers water temperature; and the plants filter stormwater runoff, removing harmful chemicals and silt that can pollute and clog waterways.
  • Look for ways to move rainwater off paved and other impervious surfaces, allowing it to soak into the ground. When channeled off paved surfaces and into streams, rainwater carries pollutants (e.g., oils, road salt) and excess water from paved surfaces, eroding stream banks and stream bottoms not structured to handle the excess water. Helpful techniques include using pervious pavements, rain barrels, and installing rain gardens – gardens where rainwater is channeled and allowed to soak into the ground.
  • Let naturally fallen woody material remain in streams and lakes.
  • Keep bodies of water free of trash.

More information

  • Angular dwarf crayfish – Call the Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office at (601) 965-4900
  • Clifton Cave beetle – Call the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office at (502) 695-0468
  • Icebox Cave beetle – Call the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office at (502) 695-0468
  • Learn more about the petition finding process

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