Feds Decline Protections for 12 Species, Citing ‘Resiliency’

(CN) – A dozen species will not receive Endangered Species Act protections, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found most are resilient enough to survive habitat destruction and the effects of climate change.

The species include the Berry Cave salamander, cobblestone tiger beetle, Florida clamshell orchid, the longhead darter and several others, including the yellow-cedar tree which has a reported lifespan of 500 to 700 years and once was found from southern Alaska to Northern California.

The longhead darter. (Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division)

The longhead darter – a 4-inch freshwater fish with a pointed snout – once roamed the waters of the Ohio River Basin from southwestern New York, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and south through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Today, the habitat range for the fish is limited to Ohio and Tennessee watersheds and the species is considered widespread but spotty. The longhead darter is susceptible to runoff from coal mining, agriculture and other sources of pollution.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it received a petition in April 2010 to consider the fish for federal protection status, but the Center for Biological Diversity said the longhead darter should have been reviewed back in the early 1980s.

In its announcement, Fish and Wildlife said five populations of the longhead darter are expanding and of five other populations, three are completely gone and the status of the two others is unknown.

Reintroduction efforts in central Ohio are ongoing. The dangers posed to the fish by climate change, drought, runoff and other factors have been identified by the federal agency but are not enough for status protection.

“Despite these stressors and some level of decline in abundance, including the loss of at least three of its historical populations, the species continues to maintain resilient populations over time,” Fish and Wildlife found.

The agency notes more impacts to the fish populations are in store, but those populations can rely on their resilience to change as they spread back to their former habitats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife will publish its findings in the Federal Register on Monday.

%d bloggers like this: