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Two Tennessee Critters Make Top 10 List

January 20, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee is home to two critters listed in a new report from the Endangered Species Coalition that details ten species in jeopardy because of fossil fuel development. The Kentucky arrow darter and the tan riffleshell, a freshwater mussel, made the list because roads, vehicles and pipelines have fragmented their habitats.

Wildlife biologist Dr. Jan Randall is a fellow at the California Academy of Science, and a member of the scientific advisory board that selected the ten species most imperiled.

"Coal, all the oil exploration, development, transportation, the spills, and now there's the shale oil, and then you get into the fracking - I mean, we're paying a huge environmental cost."

The arrow darter is a fish found in rivers and streams along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. While it hasn't made the federal endangered list, the report says it is threatened. The tan riffleshell resides in rivers in East and Middle Tennessee. Coal ash contamination is blamed for its steady decline.

Randall says making sure species are not wiped out is not only in the best interest of the animals and plants. She explains that every plant and animal plays a role in a healthy environment.

"Biodiversity is the basis of a stable environment, a stable community, because everything's interconnected – and I don't think people understand this."

The report, "Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink," is online at fuelingextinction.org.

Bo Bradshaw, Public News Service - TN