On Wednesday, December 19, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or we) will publish a batch 12-month finding petition notice for 13 species, including the Tippecanoe darter (Etheostoma tippecanoe), indicating that these species do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Tippecanoe darter, a small freshwater fish, continues to be found across its historical range in larger streams and rivers of the Ohio River watershed in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. The Tippecanoe darter was petitioned for federal protection by the Center for Biological Diversity and several other entities in 2010. We reviewed the petition, found it was substantial, and initiated a status review for the darter.
A draft of the best available information, documented in a Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report, was peer and partner reviewed by experts with the U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Frostburg State University, and state wildlife agencies across the species’ range. The SSA Report indicates with at least 12 of the 15 historical populations persisting, Tippecanoe darter populations are resilient, distributed widely across the species’ range, and in some cases, expanding. After reviewing the biological information in the SSA and applying the ESA’s policies, we determined that the Tippecanoe darter does not meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the ESA.
Today, December 18th, a draft of the batched notice is available in the Federal Register’s electronic reading room: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. The final version of the batched notice should be available in the Federal Register on December 19th at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/html/FR/todays_toc.html, and supporting documents available at www.regulations.gov under docket #FWS–R5–ES–2018–0066.
The darter is the latest in a suite of more than 190 species that have benefited from at-risk conservation and recovery efforts in the eastern United States. Since 2011, the Service, working with state partners, have determined that these species did not need federal protection as a result of proactive conservation or improved science and understanding of threats to imperiled species. This effort has drawn praise for its use of incentives and flexibilities within the ESA to protect imperiled wildlife, reduce regulations and keep working lands working. It is led by the Service, 26 states that make up the Northeast and Southeastern associations of state fish and wildlife agencies, and a host of conservation groups, tribes, landowners, businesses and utilities.
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