North Carolina is home to over 150 aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need. As the name implies, these species are prioritized for conservation based on expert review of each species’ biological vulnerability and status. Because of the imperilment of these species, many of them hold both federal and state protection. Staff with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) use a variety of management tools to help conserve and restore these priority species. One method used is through species reintroduction. Reintroduction of an aquatic species requires restoring the species to an area where it historically occurred but is no longer found. NCWRC staff often partner with property owners to gain access to the waters on or adjacent to their property while working to reintroduce species.
In November 2022, NCWRC and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) entered into a Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement and a Candidate Conservation Agreement for 21 aquatic species in North Carolina. The landmark 50-year agreements allow NCWRC to reintroduce species listed and species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act back into targeted historical locations while working with private and non-federal property owners.
Property owners can partner with NCWRC if their property is located within a targeted area and if waters on or adjacent to the property have habitat that will support the species being reintroduced. Partnering landowners agree to allow NCWRC and USFWS staff access to conduct stocking and monitoring activities, to not harm the species except incidental to otherwise lawful activities, and to provide notice 30-to-60 days in advance of altering the habitat. Property owners will not be required to fulfill any additional or different management activities without consent.
North Carolina joins Kansas as the only two states enrolled in a Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement and Candidate Conservation Agreement for aquatic species. Because many aquatic species listed under the Endangered Species Act occur in waters on or adjacent to property owned by private individuals and non-federal partners, involving landowners in the species conservation and recovery is critical.
Information and status updates on these priority species reintroduction efforts will be provided through this page.
For more information about this project please contact: RestoringAquaticSpecies@ncwildlife.org
This is truly a landmark agreement and will change the course of conservation and management of these species in the state of North Carolina. With these agreements, we plan to work with the public to conserve and restore aquatic species. We thank all our partners, stakeholders, commissioners and the public for their support.
-- Rachael Hoch, Assistant Fisheries Chief of Aquatic Wildlife Diversity.
Please note: through conservation partner work, Brook Floater did not receive a listing designation