Ten Virginia species closer to gaining federal protections after lawsuit agreement
Virginia’s aptly named overlooked cave beetle is one of 10 species found in the state scheduled to be considered for protections under the Endangered Species Act.
In response to a federal lawsuit filed by the national environmental nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed July 24 to expedite its decisions on 33 species.
Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center, said in a press release, “It’s inexcusable how long it’s taken for these rare species to move toward protection. We could lose two out of every five wild species if we don’t act now, so we need urgency from the Fish and Wildlife Service, not delays.”
Under the agreement, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the USFWS has to reach a decision as to whether the 33 species should be protected or not under the Endangered Species Act by certain dates.
Five species found in Virginia and throughout the Southeastern region of the U.S. – the Cumberland moccasinshell, Tennessee clubshell, Tennessee heelsplitter and Tennessee pigtoe freshwater mussels along with crustacean Morrison’s Cave amphipod – require a decision by Aug 15.
The spiny scale crayfish, also found in Virginia and throughout the Southeast, requires a decision by Sep. 1, 2025.
According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ Species of Greatest Conservation Need list released this year, all but the Cumberland moccasinshell and Tennessee clubshell have a “very high” conservation need.
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