EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
COLUMBUS – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently declared the Scioto madtom, a fish native to Ohio, extinct, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The Scioto madtom, a small, nocturnal species of catfish, was formerly found in a small section of Big Darby Creek, a tributary of the Scioto River.
Based on rigorous reviews of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the Scioto madtom no longer warrants listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The species will be removed from Ohio’s endangered species list as well. Its last known sighting was in 1957.
The Scioto madtom was among the first species added to Ohio’s endangered species list in 1974 and received federal protection a year later.
The species was endemic to Ohio, meaning its native range did not extend to other states.
The Scioto madtom was known to hide during the day under rocks or in vegetation and emerge after dark to forage along the bottom of the stream.
Scientists believe that modification of the fish’s habitat from siltation, industrial pollution, and agricultural runoff led to the species’ decline.
This species’ extinction highlights the importance of the U.S. and Ohio endangered species protection.
This legislation protects and recovers imperiled species and their habitats before population declines become irreversible.
Although protections arrived too late for the Scioto madtom, Ohio’s endangered species list helped populations of trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, river otters, several darter species, and others recover.
Launched in 2019, Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative has restored wetlands and improved water quality in Ohio.
H2Ohio projects capitalize on wetlands’ ability to filter sediments and pollutants out of water with the goal of leaving Lake Erie and Ohio’s rivers and streams cleaner.
Improved water quality benefits people as well as wildlife, including many protected under the endangered species list.
Both programs support the state’s Wildlife Diversity Fund, which supports habitat restoration, wildlife research projects, educational materials, and efforts to conserve endangered and threatened species.
In the past, donations to the Wildlife Diversity Fund have supported the reintroduction of native species including lake sturgeon, freshwater mussels, eastern hellbenders, trumpeter swans, and monarch butterflies.
In addition to the Scioto madtom, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the status of 20 other species to extinct. The 21 species include one mammal, 10 birds, eight mussels, and two fish.
Of those now listed as extinct, only the Scioto madtom and the tubercled-blossom pearly mussel had once been found in Ohio.
A complete list of species recently listed as extinct is available at fws.gov.