Candidate and Rare Species
The Brazos River Authority’s Environmental Services Department regularly monitors different fish and wildlife species as a way of tracking the health of the Brazos River basin ecosystem.
In addition to the threatened and endangered categories created by federal law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also created a category of species identified as candidate, and rare.
A candidate species is a plant or animal that has been determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the potential for being listed as either threatened or endangered, but the agency does not have available resources to move forward with further investigation at that time. Essentially they are on the waiting list for evaluation.
While a threatened or endangered plant or animal can be protected at both the state and federal levels at the same time, candidate species are only identified at the federal level. No protection is provided for candidate species.
Rare species is a term often used by natural resource agencies but if carries no legal or protective status. Rare species are plants or animals that are uncommon and are often found in small numbers or in a limited number of areas. They may also be species that are hard to capture and thus, are not often seen or documented. A rare species may also be identified as threatened or endangered; but, being listed as a rare does not necessarily indicate that the species is in danger.
Determining the reason for an ecosystem imbalance that is causing the number of plants or animals in a species to decline, allows natural resource agencies to develop a plan to correct the imbalance. When the results of monitoring begin to show changes, state and federal resource agencies along with local stakeholders, work together to identify the cause and make improvements that can aid the continued health and quality of the basin’s water supply.
Maintaining a balance allows the planet to continue to provide clean air and water, a reliable food supply, and a positive economy.
Currently, the BRA is monitoring three candidate species, the Western Chicken Turtle, the Texas Fawnsfoot, and the Balcones Spike.