Black Warrior Waterdog Gets Endangered Species Status

by | Jan 3, 2018 | County News, Cullman

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Black Warrior Waterdog Gets Endangered Species Status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected the Black Warrior waterdog (aka the Alabama mudpuppy) salamanders under the Endangered Species Act along with 420 river miles of protected ‘critical habitat.’

The rare salamanders are found only in one river basin in Alabama. They are on the brink of extinction because of ongoing habitat destruction and water pollution from agricultural and industrial operations.

The Fish and Wildlife Service determined these creatures (the Black Warrior waterdogNecturus alabamensis) and their environment (designate critical habitat) are an endangered species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The effect of this regulation will be to add this species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and designated critical
habit for this species.

In total, approximately 673 kilometers (420 miles) of streams and rivers in Blount, Cullman, Etowah, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston Counties, Alabama, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation.

“It’s fantastic that Black Warrior waterdogs now have the Endangered Species Act protection that will give them the best hope for survival,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care. This law is the best tool available for saving imperiled species like the waterdog.”

The gilled, aquatic salamander, which can grow to nearly 10 inches in length, was first put on the candidate waiting list for federal protection in 1982. The Center petitioned for the salamander’s protection in 2004 and again in 2010.

Today’s decision is the result of a Center for Biological Diversity legal victory listing 193 species as endangered and proposing protections for another four species.

“Aquatic salamanders like the Black Warrior waterdog are indicator species that reflect the health of the environment we all share,” Curry said. “Protecting this special amphibian and its habitat will help protect water quality for both waterdogs and people.”

Critical habitat protection requires consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service for any federally funded or permitted project to make sure the activities do not harm the salamander or its habitat.

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.

Black Warrior Waterdog Gets Endangered Species Status

image by Todd Pierson

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The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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