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Fish
E&E News, August 5, 2013

FWS proposes listing for 2 Texas minnows
By Laura Petersen

The Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed listing two Texas minnows as endangered species and designating 623 miles of river as critical habitat for them.

The sharpnose shiner and smalleye shiner are tiny fish native to arid prairie streams, according to FWS. Both species have lost half their historical range and now are restricted to one population in the upper Brazos River basin in north-central Texas.

They are at "a high risk of extinction now" because of their extreme vulnerability to drought, according to theproposed rule.

Both fish require streams to continually flow at certain speeds to ensure their eggs don't sink and die. When the Brazos River ran dry in 2011, state biologists collected shiners and held them until stream flows returned the following year. But the fish are short-lived, so a two-year drought could spell their demise.

FWS proposed critical habitat along streams in 11 counties.

The listings are part of a 2011 settlement with environmental groups to address a backlog of candidate species listings. One group, the Center for Biological Diversity, applauded today's proposed actions.

"Without help, these two unique Texas fishes will disappear forever," said Tierra Curry, a biologist with CBD.

The public has 60 days to submit comments on the proposed rule and critical habitat.

Click here to read the proposed rule.

Click here for the proposed critical habitat.


This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton