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Vermillion Darter Needs Less Muddy Digs

WASHINGTON (CN) - The brilliant colors of the vermillion darter soon will be hidden by the increasingly muddy waters of Alabama's Turkey Creek unless 13 miles of the creek are designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act, according to a petition submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The vermillion darter was listed as endangered in 2001 in part because the five impoundments 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 darter is endemic to Turkey Creek and its tiny unnamed tributaries, which run mostly through private property. Unfortunately, use restrictions based on a critical habitat designation are limited to activities funded by the federal government or taken by federal agencies.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on the proposed designation.

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