Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Rare W.Va. crayfish found in another stream

(Photo courtesy Zach Loughman)
(Photo courtesy Zac Loughman)

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

A West Liberty University researcher conducting crayfish surveys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has discovered a new location where Guyandotte River crayfish live within that species’ historical range in Wyoming County, West Virginia. The researcher located the crayfish in the Clear Fork watershed and reconfirmed the species in its presumed last known location in Pinnacle Creek. However, the species was not found at any other historical locations in the Upper Guyandotte River basin.

The researcher, Zac Loughman of West Liberty University, rediscovered Guyandotte River  crayfish in 2009. Up until then, biologists believed the species had gone extinct. The Fish and Wildlife Service funded further surveys this summer to firm up the picture as to whether rare crustacean should be placed on the Endangered Species List.

Finding the crayfish in two locations removes a little of the pressure to put it on the list, but only a little. Under the law, Fish and Wildlife Service officials have until next April to make their decision. If the crayfish qualifies for endangered or threatened status (either of which seems likely), the service will have to identify its critical habitat and put in place measures to protect that habitat from being degraded.

That could place additional restrictions on coal and timber operators in the Pinnacle Creek and Clear Creek watersheds. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have already identified sedimentation from “fossil energy development, road construction and forestry operations” as the primary threat to the species’ continued survival.