WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that protection for 374 southeastern freshwater species in 12 states may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency will now launch a full 12-month status review of each species.
The decision is part of a settlement agreement reached between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity earlier this year compelling the agency to reach listing decisions on more than 700 species of plants and animals by 2018.
“It’s clear the Fish and Wildlife Service is finally taking action to help hundreds of American species that desperately need a lifeline,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center. “Like so many species in our ever-more crowded world, these 374 species face a multitude of threats to their survival – habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and pressure from invasive species.”
The 374 species the agency will review include 89 species of crayfish and other crustaceans; 81 plants; 78 mollusks; 51 butterflies, moths, caddisflies and other insects; 43 fish; 13 amphibians; 12 reptiles, four mammals and three birds.
The Center for Biological Diversity originally petitioned to list 404 species as threatened or endangered under the act. The agency declined to consider 18 species it has already determined warrant protection under the act but whose listing is precluded by higher priority listing actions.
The agency also said that one species on the original petition, the Alabama shad, was already under consideration for listing by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and that it was unable to reach a decision on 11 species but that it would by Sept. 30.
The public is invited to submit comments on the status of the species under consideration, by Nov. 28.