Trump Administration Denies Protection to Imperiled Florida Crayfish

PANAMA CITY, Fla.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today denied Endangered Species Act protection to the imperiled Woodville Karst cave crayfish, a tiny cave-dwelling resident of Leon and Wakulla counties.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for protection of the pinkish-orange crayfish in 2010, but the agency issued a final decision today refusing to protect the 1-inch crustacean, which is threatened by groundwater depletion, pollution and sea-level rise.

“The Trump administration keeps sticking its head in the sand when it comes to protecting endangered species, along with the rest of us, from sea-level rise,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

In contrast with today’s denial of protection, independent scientific organizations consider the crayfish to be at risk of extinction. The American Fisheries Society ranks it as a threatened species, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature recently downgraded its status from vulnerable to endangered.

The crayfish has an extremely limited distribution. It exists in only 18 known sites, all of which are connected and in an area of less than 100 square miles in the Woodville Karst Plain of the Upper Floridan Aquifer. The aquifer is threatened by pollution and water withdrawals as well as by saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels.

Earlier this year the Trump administration denied protection for 29 other clearly threatened species from across the country including the Pacific walrus, Florida Keys mole skink, Bicknell’s thrush, Northern Rocky Mountains fisher and bridled darter. In addition to the crayfish, the Trump administration denied three other species protection today, including the white-tailed prairie dog, Mohave shoulderband snail and blackfin sucker.

“The Trump administration’s hostility to wildlife, from crayfish to walruses, threatens the precious natural heritage of our country,” said Lopez.