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Panama City crayfish. Photo by USFWS.

Panama City Crayfish Proposed Listing Under the Endangered Species Act

What is the Panama City crayfish?

The Panama City crayfish is a small, semi-terrestrial crayfish that grows to about two inches in length, minus claws, and is found only in Bay County, Florida. The life history of the Panama City crayfish is not well known. However, many crayfish species have a maximum lifespan of 1.5 to 3.5 years.

Why is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposing to list the Panama City crayfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?

The Service’s finding is based primarily on a species status assessment (SSA) prepared for the Panama City crayfish. The Service determined the greatest threats to the crayfish are habitat loss and degradation, habitat fragmentation, and isolation of subpopulations due to commercial and residential development. The current conditions, as assessed in the SSA, show only 43 to 54 percent of the original lands historically available to the Panama City crayfish remain potentially available for use by the crayfish.

The SSA team was composed of Service biologists who consulted with other species experts. The SSA represents a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of the species, including the impacts of negative and beneficial factors affecting the species. The SSA underwent independent peer review by scientists with expertise in crayfish biology, habitat management, and factors negatively affecting the species. Maps depicting the historical range and current populations are included in the SSA for reference. The SSA report and other materials relating to this proposal can be found on the Service’s Southeast Region website and at regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2017–0061.

What would listing mean for this species?

Conservation benefits authorized for threatened and endangered plants and animals that are listed under the ESA are:

  • Protection from being jeopardized by federal activities; restrictions on take and trade.
  • A requirement that the Service develop and implement recovery plans for this species.
  • Authorization to seek land purchases or exchanges for important habitat.
  • Authorization to issue recovery funds when available to state and non-governmental organizations with cooperative endangered species agreements.

Listing also lends greater recognition to a species’ precarious status, encourages conservation efforts by other agencies (foreign, federal, state, and local), independent organizations, and concerned individuals.

Were there any previous federal actions regarding this species?

The Panama City crayfish was included in an April 20, 2010, petition from Center for Biological Diversity and others to list 404 species in the southeastern United States with critical habitat. In response to the petition, the Service completed a partial 90-day finding on September 27, 2011 (76 FR 59836), in which it announced a finding that the petition contained substantial information that listing may be warranted for the species. The Service then conducted a status review, and this proposed listing rule also constitutes our 12-month petition finding for the species.

What types of criteria will the Service consider in making the final decision on listing this species?

A species is added to the list when it is determined to be threatened or endangered because of any of the following factors:

  • The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • Disease or predation;
  • The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  • Other natural or manmade factors affecting its survival.

How long will it take the Service to make the final decision on this proposal?

The Service intends to make a decision within a year of the proposed rule publication date. The determination will largely be driven by the number and types of comments the agency receives during the public comment period.

Will there be a critical habitat designation for the Panama City crayfish?

The Service plans to propose critical habitat for the Panama City crayfish within one year of the proposed listing rule.

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