Southeast's Rivers are the Extinction Capital of North America, US Fish and Wildlife Gets Sued

Few places in the continental United States rival the Southeast when it comes to biodiversity in peril. That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a notice of intent to sue the feds last week for ignoring the plight of 403 freshwater animals and plants in the Southeast that face the dismal prospect of extinction.

From the hellbender salamander to the Florida sandhill crane, these very different species all have one thing in common: Their survival depends on the health of the Southeast’s waterways, fast declining due to dams, pollution, growing demand for water and climate change. But the Obama administration still hasn’t responded to the Center’s 2010 petition to protect these 403 species under the Endangered Species Act. –

-From the Center for Biological Diversity–

Environmental groups, led by the Center For Biological Diversity, have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they intend to sue the agency claiming it failed to act on a petition asking that 403 species in Southeastern streams and rivers be listed as threatened or endangered species. The environmental groups petitioned FWS last April, asking that the species be considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act due to their declining numbers. Among the fish, crayfish, mussels, birds and other animals included in the petition are the Florida sandhill crane, hellbender and Black Warrior waterdog salamanders, Alabama map turtle and burrowing bog crayfish. “Unfortunately, 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 global climate change mean these 403 species need Endangered Species Act protection to have any chance at survival.” Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, said the agency has been stretched thin because of diminished budgets and the Gulf oil spill. But FWS staff still processes petitions for species protection. “We are working on it and I imagine we will be in contact with those groups,” he said.]]>

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