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Illinois Cave Amphipod-End Spp: FWS News Release (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 97 08:10:25 -0700
From: rich_greenwood@mail.fws.gov
Subject: Illinois Cave Amphipod-End Spp: FWS News Release

For Immediate Release:             Contact: Gerry Bade 309-793-5800 x 520 July
28, 1997                               Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 203

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes the Illinois Cave Amphipod as
Endangered Species; Cites Threats from Declining Water Quality

The Illinois cave amphipod, a small, cave-dwelling crustacean, has been
proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species,
initiating a review process that will help the Service determine whether the
amphipod should come under protection of the Endangered Species Act.  The
species is already listed by the State of Illinois as a state endangered

Historically found in six caves in Monroe and St. Clair counties in
southwestern Illinois, the Illinois cave amphipod now exists in only three cave
systems in Monroe County, all within a 10-mile radius of Waterloo, Illinois. 
Service biologists fear that declining water quality has eliminated the
amphipod from its other known locations.

"The Illinois cave amphipod, although a tiny, little-known creature, is an
indicator of how healthy the water is in the cave systems it inhabits," said
the Service's Regional Director William Hartwig.  "That is important because
the water in those caves comes from groundwater from the surrounding
countryside.  When we see a species like the cave amphipod begin to decline,
should begin to wonder about the quality of the water they use themselves."

The region inhabited by the Illinois cave amphipod, just across the Mississippi
River from St. Louis, Missouri, is characterized by sinkholes and caves, often
connected by underground streams.  Water from the surrounding area finds its
way into groundwater which feeds cave streams where the amphipod and other
cave-dwelling species are found.  Groundwater quality can be affected by use of
pesticides and fertilizers on surrounding lands, accidental or intentional
dumping of toxic substances in sinkholes, and sewage contamination from septic
systems, sewage disposal systems, or land application of waste.

Measuring less than an inch in length, the Illinois cave amphipod lives only in
cave streams.  It is a scavenger, feeding on all kinds of dead plants and
animals, as well as the bacterial film that covers submerged surfaces.  Recent
surveys for the species indicate the amphipod has probably been eliminated from
three of the six caves it once inhabited.  The entrances to two of the caves
where it is currently found are owned by the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources, which allows public use of one of the sites.  The other cave is
privately owned, but three of its entrances are dedicated as Nature Preserves
and will be protected in perpetuity.

The Service's proposal to list the Illinois cave amphipod begins a year-long
review of the available information on the species.  During that time, the
Service will examine available data and solicit additional information from the
public, scientists, the academic community, and other sources.   The Service
will then make a determination to either list the species as endangered or
withdraw its proposal. 

Species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act are considered
likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future.  If the amphipod is listed,
the Service would begin planning recovery actions, which might include research
on the effects of pollutants in the watershed, and cooperative efforts with
landowners to improve water quality.  The amphipod would be protected
from "take," which includes harming or killing the species.  Other Federal
agencies would be required to ensure that their activities do not jeopardize
the amphipod.

The Service's proposal to list the Illinois cave amphipod appears in the July
28, 1997,  Federal Register.  The Service invites public comments, which may be
submitted to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4469 48th Avenue
Court, Rock Island, Illinois 61201.  Comments will be accepted through
September 26, 1997.


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