Effort to preserve rare fish raise concerns - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Effort to preserve rare fish raise concerns

Researchers say the Grotto Sculpin only exists in Perry County. Researchers say the Grotto Sculpin only exists in Perry County.
PERRY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

It's been around for thousands, if not millions of years.     

No one even knew it existed until about a decade ago, and now a small cave dwelling fish in Perry County, Missouri is raising concerns.

Researchers say the Grotto Sculpin only exists in Perry County.     

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, it is in danger of becoming extinct. This has many wondering how that will affect the people of Perry County.

"Right now I smell a rat," said Steve Huber.    

Steve Huber farms in Perry County, and also sits on the Perry County Farm Bureau board.

He's worried about how efforts to preserve this fish could impact his community.

"I'm very concerned about this little sculpin, I have more questions than anything really," said Huber.  

You'll find thousands of sinkholes in Perry County, all leading to a vast cave system below.     

The caves are filled with history and species like the Grotto Sculpin.

"In this case they are looking at 36 miles of underground cave territory, and an additional 19 miles of surface territory," said Brent Buerck-Perryville City Administrator.    

Most of that is on private property.

"There are a lot of people that could be affected by these (possible) changes," said Buerck.    

Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck says he just found out about all of this two weeks ago.     

He's been researching everything he can about the small fish.

"We want to protect our history without destroying our future at the same time, we've gotta find a balance," said Buerck.    

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Grotto Sculpin became a candidate for the Endangered Species Act Protection back in 2002.     

Biologists say due to a decline in water quality in the cave system, the fish are dying off.     

If the fish is put on the endangered species list, the county could be forced to make changes when it comes to things like runoff, pesticides, and possibly more.

"If this little critter gets placed on the endangered species list that can stop agriculture and development," said Huber.    

Huber and others fear strict regulations.

"We don't need overlapping regulations, we're already over regulated," said Greg Haertling.

Many farmers are trying to be open minded, but can't help but wonder how this little fish could cause them big headaches.  

"Human beings have got to live on this planet too," said Haertling.

"I think someone's trying to put something down our throats and I don't like it," said Huber.

Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be in Perryville this coming Tuesday.

A public meeting will be held on October 30, 2012 from 5:00-8:00p.m. at the Higher Education Center in Perryville.

All concerned landowners are encouraged to attend.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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