Alabama’s Spring pygmy sunfish proposed for the Endangered Species Act protection

HUNTSVILLE, Ala/October 1, 2012 – Alabama’s Spring pygmy sunfish was proposed today for the Endangered Species Act protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This organization also proposed the protection of eight stream miles and 1,617 acres of protected critical habitat in Limestone County, Alabama, where this fish species is found.

Rare Alabama Fish Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

Spring Pygmy Sunfish
Spring Pygmy Sunfish © Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The Spring pygmy sunfish, discovered in 1937, is an important species as it now resides only in Beaverdam Creek, since the other two populations, in Cave and Pryor springs, have been lost since 1938 and 1960s, respectively. The single remaining native population now survives only within the five river miles of the Beaverdam Springs complex, where it is being constantly threatened by the urban expansion of Huntsville, pollution, down-to-date agricultural techniques and the loss of stream riparian vegetation.

“There’s still time to save the spring pygmy sunfish, but only if we act fast to protect its habitat from careless development and unsustainable agricultural practices,” said Mike Sandel, a fisheries biologist, who has done the primary research on this fish species.

In a recent study on North American freshwater fish extinction rates, Noel M. Burkhead of the US Geological Survey reports that North American fish species are going extinct at a rate 877 times the fossil record and that this rate may double between now and 2050. However, only 14 fish species in Alabama are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“The Endangered Species Act is the last hope for the spring pygmy sunfish,” stated Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Hundreds of freshwater species in Alabama and the Southeast are staring extinction in the face. Without help, we risk losing species like the spring pygmy sunfish forever.”

Except the Spring pygmy sunfish, the Center for Biological Diversity required the Fish and Wildlife Service to make protection status for 757 plants and animals, including hundreds in the Southeast.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

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