Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are turning their attention to 23 endangered and threatened species in the Southeast.
They are not only focusing on those troubled species, they want local animal lovers to help with the department’s five-year status review of the Southeast’s threatened and endangered species.
Three of the 23 Southeast fish, amphibian, reptile, snail and plant species under review can be found in Forsyth, Dawson, Hall and Lumpkin counties.
The local species include the Amber, Cherokee and Etowah Darter fish.
The Amber Darter has been on the endangered species list since 1985.
In 1994, the Etowah Darter was added to the endangered species list and the Cherokee Darter was placed on the threatened species list.
"We would like for people to share any information that they have about the status of the species -- biological information, updates about population recovery -- or any information that can help us determine if the species’ status should be uplisted or downlisted," said Elsie Davis of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"An endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. A threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future."
The federal department also is seeking information regarding habitat conditions, population trends and any conservation measures that have been implemented.
According to Fish and Wildlife Service staff, the "greatest threat to the survival of the darters is non-point source pollution."
Non-point source pollution occurs whenever rain washes dirt, fertilizer, oil and other pollutants into rivers and streams, wildlife service staff report.
The information gathered during the review will be used to possibly determine funding, permitting processes and recovery plans related to the affected species.