Re: NANFA-L-- Almost endangered

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Almost endangered
dlmcneely at
Date: Tue Sep 07 2004 - 15:40:56 CDT

By googling Arkansas darter I found (along with a couple of hundred other urls, most having to do with conservation): .

Also, the natureserv web site ( ) describes the conservation status at the international, national, and state levels for almost all species of plants and vertebrate animals. Some invertebrates are also listed.

Arkansas darter is listed as endangered in Missouri and several other states, and is a candidate species for listing by USFWS. Unofficially, the USFWS position on this species is that its populations are "stable," and that position controls its actions on this one (ie., they are doing nothing). Risking a political statement, USFWS probably feels that under current workloads and political realities (current administrative attitudes and pressures) getting new listings is virtually impossible, and so they are not proceeding with listings. That doesn't mean that candidates for listing are not in trouble, just that a lot of politicians either don't care or they think someone's pocketbook is at risk if a species is listed. Conservation is a political game.

What to do? If you already possess the animal, first, acquaint yourself with the law, including Missouri law in this case. Then contact Missouri conservation officers, explain the situation, and take your hits (which may not be that bad if the animals are still healthy) and turn the fish over to them, or whatever else they want you to do with it.

This brings up the situation with hobbys and conservation. Forgive me preaching for a moment. Non-consumptive hobbys are least likely to cause problems (snorkling to watch fish, birdwatching, and so on). But aquarists are in a unique position to contribute to conservation by cooperating with conservation organizations. If you are really good, and you can get affiliation with the right group, your fish breeding skills can be valuable in conservation. Some groups are already involved this way. Recovery plans for many species include captive propogation, and for many, many groups of animals, hobbyists know a lot about captive propogation.

Being preachy again, and forgive me: as consumptive users of nature, it is our responsibility to know the status of fishes in the areas where we may collect. Even if a particular species has no conservation status (ie., it is "legal") in a particular state, we should still try to be sufficiently knowledgable so that we can know whether a population is in trouble or not. Some species are years away from legal protection (or in some states they will never receive legal protection), yet their populations are small and declining. What should we do with regard to those populations? Should I collect Arkansas darters for my home aquarium from the tiny prairie streams in NW Oklahoma where they occur? They're legal, since they are only a "candidate" species (USFWS), and their being listed in Oklahoma as an endangered species has no legal standing -- there is no law that protects them. What about collecting _Notropis greenii_ for my home aquarium? It has no conservation status. But I k

Dave McNeely

David L. McNeely, Ph.D., Professor of Biology
Langston University; P.O. Box 1500
Langston, OK 73050; email: dlmcneely at
telephone: (405) 466-6025; fax: 405) 466-3307
home page

"Where are we going?" "I don't know, are we there yet?"

----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Muller <michiganfish at>
Date: Monday, September 6, 2004 12:15 pm
Subject: NANFA-L-- Almost endangered

> The Riffles in the latest AC had an article on the Endangered
> Species Act. This really hit home as one of the fishes waiting
> for protection, I have one in my tanks. Last spring a friend that
> had gone on a NFC collecting trip, that I believe was in Missouri,
> gave me some Arkansas darters he had collected. It was late enough
> in the spring that all the daters I was working with had stopped
> spawning. The male still had colors so I set them up in a
> spawning tank but got no eggs. I figured I would try again next
> spring and get some photos then. Both "The Fishes of Missouri"
> and "Fishes of Arkansas" said nothing about these fish being
> threatened. Two things come into play here, morality and the law.
> If I had been on the trip and been told they were waiting for the
> last 15.5 years to be placed on the Endangered list I don't
> believe I would have kept any. I do not think the person that
> collected them had this information. Now the law, if tomorrow
> they are listed what do I do? It would be illegal to have the
> fish, I could and would not release them and I do not kill fish
> that I am keeping.
> Could someone with knowledge of the Endangered Species Act please
> let me know what action I should take if something already in
> someone posession is listed?
> Bob Muller

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 11:27:14 CST