Public asked to comment on protection of rare North Alabama fish

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 7:47 pm

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAAY)- Driving past farmland on Greenbrier Road in Limestone County, it's hard to realize that a creek in the area is home to the rare Spring Pygmy Sunfish.

The fish only grows to about an inch in length. In the past, it has been found in 3 locations in North Alabama. But now it can only be found in Beaverdam Creek in Limestone County.

"The Beaverdam Spring, Beaverdam Creek complex is it's strong hold. It's the last know location or current location of the fish" says biologist Rob Hurt with the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge which is a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hurt says many factors could have led to the fish's decline including urban development, the use of pesticides, and the reduction in water quality, and water quantity.

A petition was filed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009 to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act. As part of that process, the agency is now asking for public input for a second time. They want to get public opinion on their economic analysis of protecting the critical habitats of the fish which could cost around $13,000 each year.

"It's very important for our agency to obviously take interest in protecting and conserving the best we can on this species" say Hurt

The public comment period was open until May 29th. All comments are used in the agency's final determination of whether or not to protect the fish and it's habitat under the Endangered Species Act which could be ruled on in the next year.

To submit a comment go to http://www.regulations.gov or for more information visit http://www.fws.gov

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