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A small fish with dark stripes on a yellow tinged back and white belly.
Information icon Blackfin sucker. Photo by Matthew Thomas, KDFWR.

Endangered Species Act protections not needed for Southeastern fish and crayfish

Two hands holding a transluscent crayfish with long antenae.
Woodville Karst cave crayfish. Photo by Peter Maholland, USFWS.

A crayfish found in sinkholes and freshwater spring caves in the Florida panhandle and a small fish found in clear headwater streams of the Upper Barren River System in Kentucky and Tennessee, do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Conducting scientifically rigorous Species Status Assessments for both, the Service found that the populations for each are stable and healthy, adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place for each, and neither face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

In response to a petition requesting to list the blackfin sucker and Woodville Karst cave crayfish under the ESA, the Service conducted thorough Species Status Assessments for each.

The Service found that the blackfin sucker does not warrant listing under the ESA because its populations are stable and healthy and the species remains distributed across much of its documented historical range. It exists or likely exists in 27 of 29 streams where previously found and in nine of the 10 sub-basins with historical records.

The Service also found that populations of Woodville Karst Cave crayfish are healthy, stable and protected. Many of the areas within the crayfish’s range are publically owned and managed, and biologists believe its populations are likely underestimated.

This decision bring the total of “wildlife wins” in the Service’s Southeast and Northeast Regions to 124, a result of joint at-risk conservation and recovery efforts in the Southeast. Earlier this year, this effort drew praise from congressional appropriations leaders for its use of incentives and flexibilities within the ESA to protect imperiled wildlife, reduce regulations and keep working lands working.

The effort is 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.

Since 2011, the Service’s biologists, working with state partners, have determined that 109 species did not need federal protection as a result of proactive conservation with our partners and improved science and understanding of threats to imperiled species

Another 15 species protected by the ESA were downlisted or delisted as a result of recovery actions and intensive collaboration with partners, including state wildlife agencies, industry, local communities and conservation groups.


Elsie Davis, Public Affairs Specialist, (404) 679-7107

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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