ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — Federal officials are putting a fish whose habitat is threatened by development in southern states on the endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adding the trispot darter fish to the list.
The trispot darter can be found in the Coosa River watershed in northern Alabama, northern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee. It also survives in the Conasauga River watershed, above the confluence with the Coosawattee River in Georgia and Tennessee, according to the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity.
Development along the Coosa River in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia threatens the fish's water quality due to storm water runoff, Al.com reported .
The fish was believed to be extinct in Alabama for more than 50 years until it was discovered in Little Canoe Creek in 2008, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Being placed on the endangered species list makes it illegal for the freshwater fish to be caught or sold.
"Protecting the trispot darter under the Endangered Species Act will safeguard this colorful little fish for future generations and help protect water quality for nearby communities," said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center.
The wildlife service proposed a rule to put the trispot darter on the endangered species list in October 2017. The fish was first identified as needing federal protection in 1982, and the center sued the agency in 2015 to get a legally binding date for such protection.