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Two Kentucky Cave Beetles Not Listed Due to Conservation Efforts


December 8, 2005

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291

Conservation efforts at Adams Cave in Madison County, Kentucky have enabled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove two Kentucky cave beetles from the list of candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The greater Adams Cave beetle and lesser Adams Cave beetle are only known to live in Adams Cave in the Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky, near Richmond. First discovered in the cave in 1964, the two predatory beetles are small (3 to 5 millimeters), eyeless, reddish-brown insects that feed upon cave invertebrates such as spiders, mites, and millipedes.

Over the years, people have trespassed inside Adams Cave to camp (which is not permitted by the landowner) and conduct other illegal activities (fires, parties) that vandalized and degraded the habitats within, and surrounding the cave. Consequently, the two cave beetle species had not been found for a number of years. To compound the challenge of keeping this species alive, the cave is now in the middle of a rapidly-developing subdivision southwest of Richmond, Kentucky.

In early March 2005, the Southern Conservation Corporation -- a non-profit land trust --and the Service, signed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances to ensure long-term protection for Adams Cave and the two cave beetle species. The announcement was published in the Federal Register today and can be found at:

The agreement covers a one-acre parcel in the Adams Place subdivision in Madison County, Kentucky, that includes the only known entrance to Adams Cave. The Service has determined that these conservation efforts will reduce or eliminate the threats to the survival of the two beetle species, precluding the need for listing them under the Endangered Species Act. The agreement helped protect the cave -- and the beetles -- by blocking the entrance to unauthorized uses, and creating a buffer around it that will also help prevent damage to this unique resource. This area will also be restored to its woodland savannah, prairie type habitat that is best for the beetles. The Kentucky Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provided $8,000 for construction of the new metal gate and native plant restoration surrounding the cave entrance. Additional funding of about $70,000 was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare and implement the CCAA.

“Working as a team truly does work,” said Brent Harrel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service private lands, Partners for Fish and Wildlife state coordinator for Kentucky. “To mention just a few, Robert Taylor the landowner who donated the cave was very generous to work with us on it. Ellis Laudermilk, biologist with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, kept everyone geared up about the importance of it and really helped me in finding the beetles and gating the cave.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American Tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

Cave Beetle. Photo by Dr. Monte McGregor, Kentucky Dept. Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Cave Beetle. Photo by Dr. Monte McGregor, Kentucky Dept. Fish and Wildlife Resources.

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