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A hand holding a brownish red crayfish near a cameras lens with a stream in the background.
Information icon Panama City crayfish. Photo by FWC.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing Panama City crayfish as federally threatened

Panama City, Florida – Based on the best available science, the Service has found that the Panama City crayfish – a two-inch-long crustacean found only in the open pine flatwoods and wet prairie marshes of Bay County, Florida – meets the definition of “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and is proposing it for listing. The Service is opening a 60-day public comment period on the proposal. Under the ESA, a threatened species is one that is likely to become extinct within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Much of the crayfish’s habitat has been cleared for residential and commercial development or replaced with slash pine plantations. As a result, the crayfish is now confined to grassy, gently sloped ditches and swales, slash pine plantations, utility rights-of-way, and a few remnant parcels protected under wetland and private easements.

The Service is committed to partnering with federal, state and local governments, tribes, and private landowners, to conserve fish and wildlife. The Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) and private and public partners have been working to preserve and protect habitat for the crayfish and to educate the public about them. The FWCC has been working on habitat restoration efforts since 2010 on properties already under wetland conservation easements.

Listing a species under the ESA does not necessarily preclude development of lands/parcels where that species is found. If the Panama City crayfish is listed under the ESA, the Service will provide incentives for private landowners and conservation partners to protect crayfish habitat while allowing some development.

The Service is particularly seeking comments from the public concerning:

  1. The Panama City crayfish’s biology, range and population trends.
  2. Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, or other natural or manmade factors.
  3. Biological, commercial trade or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats.
  4. Additional information concerning the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of this species, including the locations of any additional populations of this species.
  5. Information on activities that might warrant being exempted under a special ESA rule allowed by section 4(d) of the Act The Service is considering proposing such measures before the final listing determination is published, and will evaluate ideas provided by the public in considering whether such exemptions are necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species. Any exceptions will be published with the final rule if listing is determined to be appropriate.

The report upon which this proposed rule is based is available at regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2017–0061.

Comments can be submitted by one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R4–ES–2017–0061, 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–2017–0061; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia 22041–3803.

Comments should be sent only by the methods described above. All comments will be posted on regulations.gov. This generally means the Service will post any personal information provided.

A public hearing on this proposed rule may be requested within 45 days of the date this action is published in the Federal Register. To request a public hearing, please send the request, in writing, to: Catherine Phillips, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City Ecological Services Field Office, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405.

Download the species status assessment (SSA).

Contact

Ken Warren, Public Affairs Specialist in Florida
ken_warren@fws.gov, (772) 469-4323

Phil Kloer, Public Affairs Specialist in the Regional Office
philip_kloer@fws.gov, (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 fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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