Alabama fish removed from endangered species list after population recovery

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Federal wildlife officials are removing a small Alabama fish from the endangered species list, saying the fish is “no longer in danger of extinction.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially delisted the snail darter this week, removing the small deep-sea freshwater fish from the nation’s list of most endangered wildlife.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, a branch of the US Department of the Interior, administers the Endangered Species Act and maintains the nation’s most endangered species list.

“Recovering the snail stinger is a remarkable conservation milestone that tells the story of how controversy and polarization can evolve into cooperation and great conservation success,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. A press release. “By protecting even the smallest creatures, we show who we are as a country; that we care about our environment and that we recognize the interdependence of our land, wildlife and people.

The snail darter is found in the Tennessee River watershed, including parts of northern Alabama. The radiation document indicates that fish populations were found in the Paint Rock, Elk River, Bear Creek and Guntersville rivers in Alabama.

The snail’s stinger’s initial listing as an endangered species in 1975 sparked controversy and a 1978 Supreme Court case on the impacts of the Endangered Species Act, as the listing halted construction of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Tellico Dam for about two years. The dam was eventually exempted from the law, but fish populations were introduced to other waterways to ensure the survival of the species.

Today, the snail darter is found in small, free-flowing waterways in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2023, this little fish is emblematic of what partnerships can do to protect even the most initially controversial species, showing the importance ESA’s ultimate goal in preserving species for future generations,” US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said in the statement. “We would like to thank the many partners, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, who made this possible.”

Jim Williams, the former Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who wrote the original rule protecting the snail stinger, said in a press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity that the radiation proved the species law in disappearing was working.

“The snail’s stinger recovery shows the success of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act,” Williams said. “With better management of water discharges from hydroelectric and navigation dams, and the removal of many dams that no longer serve their original purpose, we could recover dozens of additional aquatic species that are still threatened by decisions taken. decades ago.”

According to the Center, a wildlife conservation group that advocates for the protection of endangered species, the snail darter joins more than 50 species delisted because their populations have recovered.

“Nearly 50 years ago, the passage of the Endangered Species Act declared that our country would protect the plants and animals that collectively underpin our survival, well-being and identity,” said said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. Press release. “Now, as we face a growing global extinction crisis, this historic law is more important than ever to save species at risk, from lesser darters to blue whales.”

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