WASHINGTON (CN) – The survival of the Berry Cave salamander is so threatened by agricultural runoff, pesticide use and disruption to its habitat caused by logging operations that listing it as endangered under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
However, because of higher priority listing actions, the agency is not moving to protect the salamander under the act, and is instead placing it on the Candidate Species List with over 250 species whose listing is similarly precluded.
The Berry Cave salamander is endemic to just nine caves adjacent to the Upper Tennessee and Cliff Driver drainage basins. The caves flood seasonally, providing year round pools for the salamanders to feed, breed and bathe in.
However, extensive logging operations have caused unseasonal flooding to occur, leading to the build-up of silt on cave floors, both washing the salamanders from their caves and causing shallower pools to form, which do not support the salamanders.