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A turtle basking on a log overhanging a pool of water.
Information icon Adult female Barbour’s map turtle on the Chipola River. Photo by Jonathan Mays, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Endangered species listing not needed for three species of wildlife in the Southeast

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded the Barbour’s map turtle, the Florida Keys mole skink, and the Big Blue Springs cave crayfish do not face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future and do not require Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections.

Based on a rigorous review of the science, the Service has determined that all three species have healthy and stable populations, primary stressors do not threaten their survival in the wild, and adequate conservation measures are in place for each.

“We are happy to announce that these three species are doing well and do not require Endangered Species Act protections,” said Mike Oetker, the Service’s Southeast Region acting director. “These species face little to no apparent threats or are the focus of ongoing conservation efforts enabling them to overcome those threats.”

These decisions bring the total of “wildlife wins” in the Service’s Southeast and Northeast Regions to 122, a result of joint at-risk conservation and recovery efforts in the Southeast. Earlier this summer, this effort to keep working lands working led by the Service, 26 states that make up the Northeast and Southeastern associations of state fish and wildlife agencies, and a host of conservation groups, businesses and utilities, drew praise from congressional appropriations leaders for its use of incentives and flexibilities within the ESA to reduce regulatory burdens and keep working lands working.

Since 2011, the Service’s biologists, working with state partners, have determined that 107 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.

Barbour’s map turtle

The Barbour’s map turtle is a freshwater turtle found in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers and their major tributaries in southeastern Alabama, southwestern Georgia and the Florida panhandle. It is named in honor of American herpetologist Thomas Barbour.

The best available science indicates the species has moderate to high resiliency, redundancy and representation throughout the majority of its range. The species continues to thrive, and its conservation status is not expected to significantly change in the foreseeable future.

Florida Keys mole skink

The Florida Keys mole skink is a small brown lizard that can reach a length of five inches. This species has a brownish-colored body with a pink-tinted tail, and two or more light-colored lines that extend from the head down the body, sometimes extending to the tail. Its legs are small and have five toes on each foot. Its diet primarily consists of roaches, spiders and crickets.

A small reptile that without it's four small legs would look like a snake.
Florida Keys mole skink. Photo by Adam Emerick, USFWS.

The Service assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present and future threats to the Florida Keys mole skink. Because the subspecies is neither in danger of extinction now, nor likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout all or any significant portion of its range, the Florida Keys mole skink does not meet the definition of an endangered or threatened species.

Big Blue Springs cave crayfish

The Big Blue Springs cave crayfish is a subterranean species of crayfish that lives in several freshwater spring and sink caves in the Florida panhandle. The Service did not document any specific significant threats to the species or its habitat throughout the currently known range and found no evidence that the species is affected by disease or predation, commercial or recreational harvest, or other man-made factors.

A translucent vrayfish climbs on a rock.
Big Blue Springs cave crayfish. Photo © Michael Dye, used with permission.


Phil Kloer, 404-679-7299,
Denise Rowell, 251441-6630;
Ken Warren, 772-562-3909 x 323;

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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