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For Immediate Release, October 18, 2012

Contact:  Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Rare, Cave-dwelling Creatures in Texas Hill Country to Gain Protected Habitat

SAN ANTONIO— In response to a lawsuit from public-interest groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to expand “critical habitat” protection for three rare invertebrates in Comal and Hays counties, Texas. The proposed revision will set aside 169 acres of habitat to protect the cave-dwelling animals, which include two beetles and a crustacean. The protected habitat is being expanded to include subsurface areas that scientists have identified as critical to the species’ survival.

“These unique Texas creatures need protection of both their surface water and the underground recharge area, and I’m so pleased they’re getting the protected critical habitat they need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The animals — Comal Springs riffle beetles, Comal Springs dryopid beetles and Peck’s cave amphipods — were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, but the Service did not designate critical habitat to help save them. In response to a suit filed by the Center, critical habitat was protected for the invertebrates in 2007; but that designation was deemed insufficient by scientists because it included only surface water and not the underground recharge area crucial to the species’ survival. The Center and allies again filed suit, resulting in today’s proposal.

169 acres of critical habitat are being proposed for the cave-dwelling creatures. The habitat areas overlap, consisting of 39 acres of surface habitat and 139 acres of subsurface habitat for the Comal Springs dryopid beetle; 38 surface acres and 138 subsurface acres for the Peck’s cave amphipod; and 54 acres of protected surface habitat for the Comal Springs riffle beetle.

The Comal Springs dryopid beetle, Comal Springs riffle beetle and Peck’s cave amphipod are all freshwater invertebrates found nowhere in the world except for four springs, where they are threatened by groundwater pumping from the Edwards Aquifer.

The groups that filed suit were the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizen’s Alliance for Smart Expansion and Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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