The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today there is not enough substantial information that 11 species from a petition for 404 species of southeastern aquatic, riparian and wetland dependent animals may warrant protection as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service made the announcement in a 90-day finding after reviewing a petition seeking to add a total of 404 species to the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and analyzing information about these species in its files.  Because this initial review did not find evidence to suggest that ESA protection may be warranted for these 11, the Service will not undertake a more thorough status review at this time.  However, the agency will continue to monitor the species’ status and encourage anyone with information regarding the species to submit it to the Chief, Division of Endangered Species, Southeast Region, at any time.

Eighteen of the 404 species petitioned are already on the Service’s list of candidates for listing as threatened or endangered or are subjects of a proposed rule to list. The decision for one fish, the Alabama shad, was given to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) because the species is under its jurisdiction.  The NMFS found that the petition did not present substantial scientific or commercial information to move forward with a 12-month finding for the Alabama shad. The Service made a finding on the additional 374 species on September 27, 2011.

The petitioners provided a significant amount of information on the historic and continuing loss of habitat and habitat degradation, as well as other threats to most of the 404 species.  The petitioners cited peer-reviewed journal articles and reports that discuss historic, current, and potential threats to the 404 species and their habitat.  However, much of this information is provided generically (i.e., it is not specific to a particular species but to a suite of species and taxa).  The Service determined that two of the petitioned species, the Florida fairy shrimp (Dexteria floridana) and South Florida rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola, are extinct, as they have not been documented in over 50 years, and in the case of the fairy shrimp, its’ only known habitat has been destroyed.

For nine of the petitioned species we had additional information in our files indicating the species were not threatened as generically alleged by the petitioners, are more wide-ranging, and show no evidence of decline at this time, including the following; Sarah’s hydroptila caddisfly (Hydroptila sarahae), Rogue Creek hydroptila caddisfly (Hydroptila okaloosa), Florida brown checkered summer sedge (Polycentropus floridensis), Ouachita creekshell (Villosa arkansasensis), crystal darter (Crystallaria asprella), spotted darter (Etheostoma maculatum), Florida bog Frog (Rana okaloosae), Greensboro burrowing crayfish(Cambarus catagius), and Blood River crayfish (Orconectes burri).

The finding published in the Federal Register today, October 6, 2011.  For further information contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30345.

For more information about this finding, please visit the Service’s Southeast Regional web site at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/.  To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.   For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.  Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

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