Local fish added to Endangered Species list - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local fish added to Endangered Species list

Posted: Updated:
Laurel Dace. / USFWS Laurel Dace. / USFWS
Cumberland Darter. / USFWS Cumberland Darter. / USFWS
Rush Darter. / USFWS Rush Darter. / USFWS
Yellowcheek Darter/ USFWS Yellowcheek Darter/ USFWS
Chucky Madtom./ USFWS Chucky Madtom./ USFWS

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced five Southeastern fish will be added to the Endangered Species list, including one from the Chattanooga area.

According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, chucky madtom, and laurel dace are now federally-listed as endangered throughout their respective ranges.

The endangered status goes into effect on September 8th, 30 days from Tuesday's decision.

The laurel dace can only be found the Walden Ridge area of Tennessee. The Cumberland darter occurs in Kentucky and Tennessee near Nashville, the rush darter in western Alabama, the yellowcheek darter in central Arkansas, and the chucky madtom can only be found in the Little Chucky Creek, northeast of Knoxville.


The laurel dace was historically found in seven streams on the Walden Ridge portion of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.  Currently, laurel dace's population is found in six of the seven streams that were historically occupied, but in shorter reaches.  In these six streams, laurel dace are known to occupy reaches of approximately 0.2 to 5 miles in length.


The Cumberland darter is only found in the upper Cumberland River system above Cumberland Falls in Kentucky and Tennessee.  Historically, this species inhabited 21 streams in the upper Cumberland River system.  Now, the Cumberland darter survives in short reaches of less than one mile along 12 streams.


The rush darter is only found in the Tombigbee-Black Warrior drainage in Alabama. It continues to have a presence in three watersheds: the Turkey Creek watershed (Jefferson County); the Clear Creek watershed (Winston County); and the Cove Creek watershed (Etowah County). However, the fish has a more limited distribution within these watersheds.


The yellowcheek darter is found in the Little Red River basin in Arkansas.  Although yellowcheek darters still inhabit most streams within their historic range, they exist in greatly reduced population numbers in the Middle, South, Archey, and Beech forks of the Little Red River.


A small catfish, the chucky madtom is found in the upper Tennessee River system in Tennessee. Currently, only three chucky madtoms have been collected from one stream, Little Chucky Creek, since 2000.

The ranges and abundance of these five fishes seriously declined due to changes in their stream habitats resulting from mining, agriculture, reservoir construction, channelization, urban sprawl, pollution, sedimentation, and incompatible forestry practices. 

The designation of critical habitat also is prudent for all five fishes and will be proposed in the Federal Register following the final listing.  A 60-day comment period will follow publication of the proposed critical habitat rule in the Federal Register at which time the public can provide comments and request public hearings.

All five fishes were candidates for listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  The Cumberland darter was first identified as a candidate for listing in the 1985 Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR), and the rush darter became a listing candidate in the 2002 CNOR.  The yellowcheek darter was included in the 2001 CNOR, the chucky madtom in the 1994 CNOR, and the laurel dace in the 2007 CNOR. 


Powered by Frankly