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Oklahoma-specific crayfish not endangered, feds say

Daniel Folds
/
iNaturalist

Federal wildlife officials have decided not to add an Oklahoma-specific crawdad species to the endangered species list.

The Kiamichi crayfish is thought to live only in a 30-mile stretch of the Kiamichi River in Southeast Oklahoma. It’s greenish-reddish brown and prefers to live in pebbly streams.

A New Mexico-based wildlife non-profit requested the crawdads and hundreds of other species be listed as endangered in 2007. An initial one-year study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that more protections might be warranted for the Kiamichi crayfish.

But after a longer look, they’ve determined it doesn’t qualify as endangered. The main concern was that rising water temperatures could harm the critters. However, federal officials say Kiamichi crayfish can deal with periodic heat and drought by burrowing or moving to cooler pools.

Based on climate models, experts expect the crayfish to be safe for at least 50 years. In fact, they believe the acidity and metals in their environment might even improve over that timeframe.


This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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