A ‘cryptic’ cave-dwelling salamander surfaces again in court

By Michael Doyle | 05/07/2024 04:11 PM EDT

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit seeking protections for the Berry Cave salamander.

A Berry Cave salamander.

A Berry Cave salamander. Matthew L. Niemiller/Wikimedia

Environmentalists summoned the Fish and Wildlife Service back to federal court Tuesday in an effort to secure Endangered Species Act protections for a cave-dwelling Tennessee salamander.

Though the federal agency once identified the Berry Cave salamander as a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered, the species was dropped from consideration in a 2019 decision that the Center for Biological Diversity contends “ignored” the best available science.

“The rapid decline of these special salamanders means we’re not doing enough to protect Tennessee’s water quality and special places,” said Chelsea Stewart-Fusek, an associate attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.


Stewart-Fusek added that ESA protections would “give the Berry Cave salamander a fighting chance at survival and provide funding for improving East Tennessee’s water quality.”