Dunn fights to keep crayfish conservation efforts at local level

WASHINGTON, DC – In a move to support local efforts in Bay County, Congressman Neal Dunn (FL-02) has urged Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposal to list the Panama City crayfish as Threatened on the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Currently, the Panama City crayfish is protected as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule. Dr. Dunn wrote a letter in opposition to the proposed listing for inclusion in the public comments that USFWS has solicited.

“Working under threat of further litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hastily proposed a rule that erroneously used survey data on the presence of crayfish at a particular location as a substitute for scientific assessment of population size,” wrote Dr. Dunn. “Among other deficiencies in the USFWS review for the species and proposed rule, the misuse of available data resulted in an inaccurate assessment of population size…”

In accordance with a 2011 legal settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to produce a listing determination for the Panama City crayfish by December 29, 2017. USFWS is on-schedule to officially list the species by January 2019.

“I also encourage you to consider more closely the conservation measures Florida has diligently undertaken with regard to the Panama City crayfish, and allow continued management of the species by Floridians under their successful regime rather than by the Federal Government under its failed Endangered Species Act,” added Dr. Dunn.

Local leaders have expressed concerns about the consequences of this proposed listing on economic development in Bay County. It is also difficult to properly identify the Panama City crayfish because it is one of 11 species of crayfish found in the area. Dr. Dunn will continue to fight to defund the USFWS listing in the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of the Interior funding bill.