By Ramona Young-Grindle
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized the listing of the diamond darter, one of the most imperiled fish in the southeastern U.S., as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to a new regulation.
Already listed by the Southeastern Fishes Council as one of the southeast's 12 most imperiled fishes, or "desperate dozen," the 3 inch long diamond darter is now found in only one segment of the lower Elk River in West Virginia.
"Despite...extensive and targeted survey efforts within the species' known range and preferred habitat in the Elk River, fewer than 50 individuals have been collected over the last 30 years," the 2012 listing proposal said. The historic range of these tiny perch family members included the Muskingum River in Ohio, the Ohio River in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, the Green River in Kentucky and the Cumberland River Drainage in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The species was "rediscovered" in the Elk River in 1980 during a survey, when one individual was collected. It was believed to be "extirpated," or extinct throughout its range before the rediscovery, the proposed rule said.
The USFWS's action to protect the fish was "spurred by a landmark agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 species," according to the CBD's press release in response to the final rule.
"The Center and a coalition of 16 other conservation groups submitted comments in support of the fish's protection. More....