For the second time this year, conservation groups have threatened legal action in an effort to list the lake sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act. The Hoosier Environmental Council, Fishable Indiana Streams for Hoosiers, and others filed a notice of intent to sue against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week.
The groups first threatened suit in May when the Fish and Wildlife Service missed its deadline to respond to their petition to list the lake sturgeon. The agency has since responded, but now it’s missed its next deadline in the process — what's called the 12-month finding.
Sam Freedlund is a student with the University of Chicago’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic — which is representing conservation groups. He says it’s a shame that these lawsuit notices have become necessary to get federal protections for vulnerable species.
“It's really become almost a mandatory step if you want a ruling in any kind of timeframe on these petitions,” Freedlund says.
Director of the group FISH, Gary Moody, says lake sturgeon is an endangered species in Indiana and could use federal protection.
“I mean, water is getting cleaner, but we've got climate change and other threats. So that’s a good question as to their nationwide viability if we don't do this,” he says.
Conservation groups would like the lake sturgeon to be listed as a federally endangered or threatened species and its habitat protected.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not respond in time for comment.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.