WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 13 miles of Alabama’s Turkey Creek as critical habitat for the vermilion darter fish, to protect it from increasingly muddy creek waters.
The vermilion darter was listed as endangered in 2001 in part because the five reservoirs on the creek, various gravel extraction sites, and off road vehicle use ruined the water quality, making it difficult for the darter to find the water bugs and microcrustaceans it eats off the creek’s substrate.
The determination follows a law suit by the Center for Biological Diversity against the Secretary of the Interior alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to timely designate critical habitat for the species.2007
The darter is endemic to Turkey Creek and its tiny unnamed tributaries, which run mostly through private property.
Unfortunately for the fish, use restrictions based on a critical habitat designation are limited to activities funded by the federal government or taken by federal agencies. The restrictions are effective Jan. 6.