Environmental groups plan lawsuit on petition to protect species
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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