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A small semi-transluscent catfish in an aquarium.
Information icon Chucky madtom. Photo by J.R. Shute, Conservation Fisheries, Inc.

Recovery plan for endangered Chucky madtom available

The final recovery plan for the Chucky madtom, a federally listed endangered small catfish, is now available.

The Chucky madtom lives in a single tributary of the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee. Threats to the species include loss of habitat, small population size, inability to offset mortality with natural reproduction, and their resulting vulnerability to natural or human-induced catastrophic events, such as droughts and pollution.

This plan describes actions considered necessary for the recovery of this fish, establishes criteria for delisting the species, and estimates the time and cost for implementing the measures needed.

To delist this catfish, the Service and its partners must reduce or eliminate threats, such as poor water quality, small populations and habitat range, and low reproductive capacity, to the point where it no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Also, population studies must show that a viable population in Little Chucky Creek and at least one other stream are naturally reproducing and sustainable.

The initial recovery strategy for Chucky madtoms is to locate individuals and work with partners and the community to protect the existing habitat along Little Chucky Creek. This area will be monitored in hopes of finding individuals and /or populations of this catfish. The madtom was not discovered until 1991, and no sightings of the fish have been recorded since 2004. Clearly this species is difficult to detect, however we also recognize the possibility that the species may be extinct. If new information indicates the species is indeed extinct, then the Service will proceed with a delisting due to extinction.

Conservation efforts are ongoing to conserve the Little Chucky Creek watershed where the chucky madtom was found. The Middle Nolichucky Watershed Alliance, comprised of federal, state, and local government agencies and private organizations, is working to protect the watershed’s water quality by encouraging sound land use practices.

In addition, several incentive programs are available to private landowners who are using agricultural best management practices. The Service offers Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects to these landowners which involve matching funds from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and technical assistance from Greene County Soil Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These projects include riparian fencing, bank stabilization, and creation of alternate water sources. Also, The Land Trust for Tennessee and the Appalachian Resource Conservation Council have purchased conservation easements along Little Chucky Creek, which protect its habitat from development.

Download the Chucky madtom recovery plan, or find more recovery plans online.


Phil Kloer, Public Affairs Specialist, (404) 729-7299

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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