For Immediate Release, April 14, 2021

Contact:

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

Lifesaving Critical Habitat Protection Proposed for Panama City Crayfish

Agreement Reached to Finalize Listing Protection by Year End

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Following a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection today for 7,177 acres of critical habitat for Panama City crayfishes. The Center and Service also reached an agreement today requiring the Service to finalize listing protection by December.

“The Panama City crayfish is in serious trouble, and we’re encouraged that today’s critical habitat proposal could help it get on the path to recovery,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “The only way to save species like this little crayfish is to protect the places they live, and today’s proposal and agreement will help do that.”

The Center petitioned the Service to list the crayfish under the Endangered Species Act in 2010. Following a 2013 lawsuit by the Center, the Service finally proposed protection for the species in 2018. After the Service failed to finalize protection, the Center again sued last year and recently reached an agreement for final protection by Dec. 15.

The Panama City crayfish is native to northwestern Florida, where it historically lived in flatwoods and wet-prairie marshes in Jefferson, Leon and Wakulla counties. With massive urban sprawl, the crayfish has lost most of its habitat and now only occurs in isolated areas. Just 12 populations remain.

Primary stressors to the species are habitat loss and degradation, habitat fragmentation and population isolation. Other threats include farming and grazing, silviculture practices, ditching and collection for bait. These threats are worsened by the effects of climate change.

“Saving this crayfish means protecting the disappearing Florida wetlands that it calls home, and finalizing federal protection is a crucial step toward recovering this dwindling species and protecting its essential habitat,” said Lopez.

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.
RSCritical_Habitat_Panama_City_crayfish_USFWS_FPWC.png
Index Map of Critical Habitat Units for Panama City Crayfish by USFWS. 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.