For Immediate Release, October 1, 2020

Contact:

Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Challenges Federal Failure to Protect Panama City Crayfish

Panhandle Crayfish on Fast Track to Extinction From Urban Sprawl, Pollution

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to finalize Endangered Species Act protections for the Panama City crayfish. Today’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“Without protection under the Endangered Species Act, the Panama City crayfish will go extinct,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “Saving this crayfish means protecting the wetlands it calls home. Without that, they could blink out of existence.”

The Panama City crayfish is native to northwestern Florida, where it historically existed in flatwoods and wet-prairie marshes in Jefferson, Leon, and Wakulla counties. With massive urban development, the crayfish has lost most of its habitat and now only occurs in isolated areas of Bay County in Florida’s panhandle. Just 13 populations remain.

Additional stressors to the species include collection for bait, off-road vehicle use, insecticide application and habitat degradation from point-source pollution.

The Center petitioned the Service to list the crayfish under the Act in 2010. Following a 2013 lawsuit from the Center, the Fish and Wildlife Service finally proposed protection for the crayfish in 2018, but more than a year has passed since the Service’s legally required deadline to finalize that proposal. Such delays in protection have real consequences. At least 47 species of plants and animals have gone extinct waiting for protection.

Panama_City_Crayfish_Florida_Fish_And_Wildlife_Conservation_Commission_FPWC.jpg
Panama City crayfish. Photo courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.