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A greyish green fish with a long body and blueish grey fins.
Information icon Bridled darter. Photo by Noel Burkhead, United States Geological Survey.

Endangered Species Act protection not needed for two Coosa darters

After a scientifically rigorous process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has concluded instead that the holiday darter and bridled darter populations are stable, being conserved through existing regulations, and do not need protection.

The holiday darter is a small freshwater fish found in small creeks to moderate-sized rivers above the fall line in the Ridge and Valley, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont provinces of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The Service reviewed seven populations for the holiday darter, and all seven populations still exist within the current range.

A colorful small fish with orange, yellow and green scales on its body and fins.
Holiday darter. Pat O’Neil, Geological Survey of Alabama.

The bridled darter also is a small freshwater fish native to the upper Coosa River basin in Georgia and Tennessee, and is found in small rivers with good water quality. The Service analyzed six populations and all of them are intact.

“After looking at the current status of these darters, working with partners, and reviewing all of the scientific information, we’ve determined they do not need the Endangered Species Act’s protection,” said Mike Oetker, the Service’s acting Southeast Regional director.

Both the holiday and bridled darters face challenges stemming from declining water quality, but in its review the Service found adequate and protected habitats exist for both darters. The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife program within the Coosa River basin will help farmers develop and implement strategies to improve water quality for these and other aquatic species.

The decision not to list the bridled and holiday darters under the ESA comes amid work on a massive settlement agreement requiring the Service to review the status of more than 400 species of fish, wildlife and plants.

These decisions bring the total of “wildlife wins” in the Service’s Southeast and Northeast Regions to 119. Since 2011, the Service’s biologists, working with state partners, have determined that 104 species did not need federal protection as a result of one or more of the following:

  • conservation actions;
  • additional information such as updated survey data;
  • a lack of substantial information;
  • reevaluation of threats to their survival.

Another 15 species protected by the ESA now require less protection or no protection at all as a result of recovery actions.

Learn more with The Dynamic Darters: A private lands conservation success story


Denise Rowell,, 251-441-6630
Phil Kloer,, 404-679-7299

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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