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Two outstretched hands holding a light red colored crayfish by the claws
Information icon Nashville crayfish. Photo by Phil Kloer, USFWS.

Proposed delisting of Nashville crayfish

What action is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taking?

The Service is proposing to delist the Nashville crayfish. This determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the threats to the species have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the species has recovered and no longer meets the definition of an endangered or a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We are also releasing a draft post-delisting monitoring plan that outlines monitoring and conservation activities of the Service and conservation partners for at least five years after a species is delisted.

What is the Nashville crayfish?

The Nashville crayfish is a crustacean that grows to about 7 inches long and has four pairs of walking legs and two pincers, called chelae. It eats insects, worms, algae, fish eggs, snails and mussels preyed upon by raccoons, fish and reptiles.

Where is it found?

It is known to exist only in the Mill Creek watershed in metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, in Davidson and Williamson counties.

A stream meanders through a forest.
Mill Creek watershed. Photo by Phil Kloer, USFWS.

When was it listed as endangered under the ESA?

The crayfish was listed in 1986.

What did the Service consider in reaching its decision to propose this delisting?

This proposed delisting is based on a thorough review of the best available science, including a peer-reviewed Species Status Assessment and a five-year review by the Service. Our review shows there is a low likelihood of threats (human development, increases in impervious cover, impacts to water quality and catastrophic spills) having an impact on a significant portion of the crayfish’s range. In addition, the crayfish has shown greater resilience to these threats than previously thought.

Numerous surveys have found the crayfish present throughout the watershed, including in some waters where it had not previously been found. These scientifically rigorous reviews were also used by the Service to make the determination that the threats to the species have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the species has recovered and no longer meets the definition of an endangered or a threatened species under the ESA.

What actions have the Service and partners taken to help recover this species?

The conservation community has been instrumental in recovery of the Nashville crayfish by protecting Mill Creek and its tributaries. These efforts have involved raising awareness about the threats to the crayfish and its habitat, helping restore the stream to a more natural state, and supporting sustainable development in areas near the creek. Groups that played a critical role in recovering the crayfish and its habitat include the Nashville Zoo, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Mill Creek Watershed Association, private landowners and developers.

If the crayfish is delisted, will the Service continue monitoring it?

Yes. The Service has created a draft post-delisting monitoring plan that will monitor the status of the crayfish and outline any conservation activities for at least five years after it is delisted. It is available at regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2018-0062.

What are the next steps in the delisting of the Nashville crayfish?

After reviewing and carefully considering all public comments, the Service will publish a final rule.

How can the public participate in this process?

The public is invited to comment on this proposal. We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Jan. 27, 2020. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

You may submit comments on this proposed rule by one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2018-0062, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
  2. By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2018-0062; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us.

Document availability: The proposed rule, draft PDM plan and supporting documents (including the Species Status Assessment), references cited, five year review are available at regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2018-0062.

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