Sickle Darter Protected as Threatened Under Endangered Species Act

Timothy Hill

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— In response to a 2010 petition and 2015 arrangement with the Heart for Organic Variety, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now declared a ultimate rule to defend the sickle darter as threatened less than the Endangered Species Act. But in today’s determination, the company failed to designate important habitat for the fish.

“It’s tragically much too late for the sickle darter in the watershed wherever I dwell, the French Wide River, but with protections in location, we can nevertheless save this exceptional fish in other rivers,” claimed Will Harlan, a senior campaigner and staff scientist at the Middle. “So a lot of individuals get their ingesting h2o from or just have enjoyable on the Appalachian rivers where these fish live, so preserving this major, beautiful darter will also assistance a whole lot of individuals.”

The key threat to the sickle darter is habitat reduction from siltation, water pollution and dams. Siltation fills the areas in concerning rocks on the river bottom that the fish needs to lay eggs and obtain prey. The sickle darter’s drinking water is polluted by animal squander, domestic sewage, pesticides, significant metals from mining, and other contaminants and pathogens. Dams and impoundments have divided sickle darter populations and confined their motion. Local climate transform is also harming the fish and its habitat.

In Tennessee, populations of the sickle darter are nonetheless found in the Emory, Small and Sequatchie Rivers. These populations are separated from populations in the higher Clinch and the Center and North Fork Holston Rivers in Virginia. The fish has been wiped out in North Carolina, in which it was once identified in the French Broad, South Fork Holston, Powell and Watauga Rivers.

“Our cities and farm fields are polluting rivers throughout the country,” said Harlan. “This fish is just one particular of lots of that are suffering. We have to do additional to protect them, and 1 effective way the Service can do that is by supplying vital habitat for the sickle darter.”

The sickle darter is huge by darter criteria, growing to be nearly 5 inches extensive. It has even larger scales than other darters and a notable black stripe on its facet. It takes advantage of its significant mouth and very long pointed snout to feed on larval mayflies, midges, riffle beetles, caddisflies and dragonflies. Sickle darters can live up to four a long time.

It was very first described as a species in 2007, when it was found to be distinctive from the carefully related longhead darter. The scientific title is Percina williamsi, honoring the renowned biologist Jim Williams, who has been performing to explain and protect freshwater species in the southeastern United States for more than 50 percent a century.

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