404 Southeastern Freshwater Fish, Mussels, Crayfish, Birds, and Others Petitioned for Protection as Endangered Species

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

404 Southeastern Freshwater Fish, Mussels, Crayfish, Birds, and Others Petitioned for Protection as Endangered Species

ATLANTA - The Center for Biological Diversity and six southeastern conservation groups filed a formal petition
today asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered Species
Act protection for 404 species dependent on the region’s troubled
waterways. The 1,145-page petition asks for protection for 48 fish, 92
mussels and snails, 92 crustaceans, 82 plants, 13 reptiles, four
mammals,15 amphibians, 55 insects, and three birds including the
Florida sandhill crane, salamanders like the hellbender and black
warrior waterdog, fish that once formed important fisheries like the
Alabama shad, and nine freshwater turtle species. It sets in motion a
federal review of the species.

“With unparalleled
diversity and a variety of severe threats, the Southeast’s rivers are
the extinction capital of North America,” said Noah Greenwald,
endangered species program director at the Center. “Dams, pollution,
growing demand for water, and uncertainty about future water
availability with global climate change mean these 404 species need
Endangered Species Act protection to have any chance at survival.”

Based
on a massive search of available literature and extensive consultation
with a host of scientific experts, the petition includes extensive
information on the status of, and threats to, the 404 species, and
clearly demonstrates the species are in need of protection. The
combined threat of dams, urban and agricultural sprawl, logging,
mining, livestock grazing, pollution, invasive species, climate change,
and other factors represent a massive assault on the health and
integrity of Southeast rivers and clearly threaten the survival of
these 404 species.

“These 404 species are an
integral part of what makes the Southeast unique,” said Greenwald.
“Saving them would improve the health of southeastern rivers and help
ensure a high quality of life for people now and in the future.”  

The Southeast’s rivers and streams are a hotspot of biological
diversity, harboring, for example, 493 fishes (62 percent of U.S fish
species) and at least 269 mussels (91 percent of all U.S. mussel
species). The Coosa River is the site of the greatest modern extinction
event in North America with extinction of 36 species following
construction of a series of dams. Overall, the Mobile Basin is home to
half of all North American species that have gone extinct since
European settlement.       

“An
extinction crisis is unfolding in southeast rivers and streams,” said
Greenwald.  “If dramatic action is not taken to curb impacts to the
region’s rivers, these 404 species and many others will be lost
forever.”

The species included in the petition have
a diversity of life-history strategies and range from the anadromous
Alabama shad to the sandshell mussel, which lures fish into close
proximity using an appendage that looks like a small fish in order to
release their larvae into the fish’s gills. The species have colorful
names like Chesapeake logperch, holiday darter, Alabama hickorynut,
bearded red crayfish, frecklebelly madtom, and Pascagoula map turtle.

Groups
joining the Center include Alabama Rivers Alliance, Clinch Coalition,
Dogwood Alliance, Gulf Restoration Network, Tennessee Forests Council,
and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Share This Article

More in: