Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 3, 2018

Contact: Perrin de Jong, (828) 595-1862,

Lawsuit Aims to Speed Endangered Species Protection for North Carolina Fish, Salamander

Seven-year Delay Has Increased Extinction Risk for Carolina Madtom, Waterdog

ASHEVILLE, N.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect two imperiled aquatic species in eastern North Carolina under the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, seeks protection for the Carolina madtom, a small catfish fighting for survival in the Tar River basin, and the Neuse River waterdog, a permanently aquatic salamander found only in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins.

“You won’t find these two North Carolina species anywhere else on Earth, and they deserve a fighting chance at survival,” said Perrin de Jong, a staff attorney at the Center. “The Carolina madtom and Neuse River waterdog desperately need Endangered Species Act protection to survive under the onslaught of development, dams and water pollution.”

The Center petitioned for protection of both species under the Act in April 2010. The Fish and Wildlife Service was required to make a decision about those protections within one year, meaning the agency’s finding is now nearly seven years late.

In 2016 the Service developed a National Listing Workplan under which the Carolina madtom and Neuse River waterdog were scheduled to receive protection decisions by the end of 2017. But the Trump administration dropped the ball on protecting the species. 

“The Endangered Species Act is incredibly successful at protecting and recovering animals and plants, but it only works if species are actually listed as threatened or endangered,” said de Jong. “Protecting these two fascinating animals will help prevent their extinction and will benefit the people of North Carolina by helping to restore the state’s rivers.”

Long delays in protecting species under the Act have been a persistent problem for decades. At least 42 species have gone extinct waiting for protection. A recent peer-reviewed study found that on average species waited 12 years for protection during the Act’s 40-plus year history. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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