Thanks to the 2003 petitioning of UT Knoxville philosophy professor John Nolt the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Berry Cave salamander on its Candidate Species List for federal protection. The Berry Cave salamander is found in only nine caves in eastern Tennessee; eight of these caves are within the Upper Tennessee River and Clinch River drainages, and one cave is in McMinn County.
“I became interested in the salamander when I used to take my kids into Meade quarry cave long ago,” said Nolt. “My interest became serious as I began to work with the city of Knoxville’s James White Parkway task force in 2002. I wrote the environmental impact section of the task force report and later went to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service meeting in Cookeville, where the status of the salamander was discussed. I became convinced at that meeting that it merited listing as an endangered species, and in 2003 I filed a petition seeking that listing.”
In 2003, Nolt filed a petition to list the Berry Cave salamander as endangered. This week, as a result of a status review, called a 12-month finding, the service finds this aquatic, cave-dwelling salamander warrants addition to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. However, for now, the service must focus its limited funding for species at greater risk. The salamander’s addition to the Candidate Species List means its status will be reviewed annually.
The results of the 12-month finding for the Berry Cave salamander appear in the March 22 Federal Register at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR.
The Endangered Species Act requires the service to determine whether the petition seeking protection for a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that such a petition may be warranted. A 90-day substantial finding was published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2010, after which the Service initiated the more in depth 12-month status review.
The salamander is unusual among other salamanders in that it normally does not mature into the adult form. They reach reproductive maturity in their larval form, still keeping their gills. Threats facing the Berry Cave salamander include urban development near caves where the salamander is found, water contamination, and hybridization with spring salamanders.
The service encourages citizens to submit any new information that becomes available on the species to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Field Office, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, Tenn., 38501, for consideration during the candidate review process. The findings of the subsequent review will be published in the annual Candidate Notice of Review in the Federal Register.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Visit the service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov and http://www.fws.gov/southeast .
Source ## U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service