(WKBN) – The Ohio Division of Wildlife is taking action to preserve the population of underwater wildlife.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources lists that 125 species in Ohio are endangered. Out of all the species that are endangered, mollusks (24) and fishes (22) have the most individual endangered species in Ohio.

The mission of ODNR is to increase the population of some endangered species like mussels. An endangered species is defined by ODNR as a native species or subspecies threatened with extirpation from the state. The danger may result from one or more causes, such as habitat loss, pollution, predation, interspecific competition, or disease.

ODNR Program Administrator John Navarro said the agency is working with the Columbus Zoo to give the mussels population a chance to grow. Navarro said some mussels are endangered because they struggle to find intermediary host fish to help them complete their life cycle.

“They’ll attach those to a host, usually a fish, and it doesn’t hurt the fish. You have to have the right host fish. If fish aren’t around, it isn’t good for the mussels,” Navarro said.

As a result, ODNR is working with the Columbus Zoo and The Ohio State University to expand an exhibit that is predicated on mussel research and propagation. They are hoping that they can help the mussels species bypass the mussel host fish process, and in turn, increase the population.

endangered muscles
Credit: Ohio Division of Wildlife- Mussels

“In the laboratory, we can create thousands of mussels in the lab for putting them out in places where they used to be, so kind of we’re kind of giving them a jump start,” Navarro said.

Navarro said that fish, on the other hand, have seen their populations grow due to clean water efforts over the past number of decades. The burning of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland up until the late 1960s hindered the growth of the fish population, but it also helped usher in the Clean Water Act. Wastewater treatment plants were also implemented.

“Now all of our waste is clean, sometimes cleaner than the water it’s going into. That really turned things around for aquatic life,” he said.

Navarro said the flow of clean water has caused certain fish species like the Blue breast darter to no longer be endangered. He said he hopes that eventually the Tippecanoe darter species will no longer be threatened. Navarro said these developments are because of water quality improvements.

blue breast fish
Credit: Ohio Division of Wildlife- Blue breast darter

“It’s not anything we did; we didn’t put fish out there. We didn’t stock fish. Water quality was just better and fish expanded on their own,” Navarro said.

Navarro said one fish species that he would like to see lose its endangered status is the Native Brook Trout. The Native Brook Trout is in an isolated area in Northeast Ohio where there are small streams. When a lot of rain falls, it impacts this coldwater species, inhibiting its ability to grow.

Navarro said other agencies are working with ODNR to try to stabilize the population.

Navarro expressed his desire to keep soil on the landscape. Activities like agriculture can cause sedimentation, where soil blankets the bottom of the river. This impacts the species’ living conditions.

Navarro credited Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for starting an initiative to try to bring wetlands back to Ohio to improve water quality. Navarro described wetlands as nature’s kidneys and said that this is a natural way to filter water into streams.

Navarro encouraged the public to continue to protect our streams so that underwater wildlife populations can continue to grow.

“Let’s protect our streams. Our headwater streams are very important. The stuff in ephemeral streams, the streams that are intermittent are important. Everything flows downstream. If you destroy your headwater streams, you’re really damaging the whole system. So we’ve made a lot of gains,” he said.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife records data regarding hundreds of species in the state of Ohio. ODNR conducts expert reviews by looking at the population status of the species. If the population of a species looks dire, the agency will determine what to categorize it as.

The agency reports that nearly 400 species are listed in classification categories. There are six classification categories: Endangered, Threatened, Species of Concern, Special Interest, Extripated, and Extinct.

Bald eagles were endangered from 1978 until they were removed from the list in 2007.

Here is the complete list of Endangered Species in Ohio as of July 2022:

  • endangered black bear
  • little bat
  • endangered massassagua snake
  • endangered karnerblue butterfly
  • endangered bird

Amphibians (5)

  • Blue-spotted salamander-Ambystoma laterale
  • Cave salamander-Eurycea lucifuga
  • Eastern hellbender-Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis
  • Eastern spadefoot-Scaphiopus holbrookii
  • Green salamander-Aneides aeneus

Bees (1)

Rusty patched bumblebee *E- Bombus affinis

Beetles (3)

  • American burying beetle *E- Nicrophorus americanus
  • Ohio cave beetle- Pseudanophthalmus ohioensis
  • Water penny beetle- Dicranopselaphus variegatus

Birds (12)

  • American bittern- Botaurus lentiginosus
  • Black tern- Chlidonias niger
  • Cattle egret- Bubulcus ibis
  • Common tern- Sterna hirundo
  • King rail- Rallus elegans
  • Kirtland’s warbler *E- Setophaga kirtlandii
  • Lark sparrow – Chondestes grammacus
  • Loggerhead shrike- Lanius ludovicianus
  • Northern harrier- Circus hudsonius
  • Piping plover *E- Charadrius melodus
  • Snowy egret- Egretta thula
  • Upland sandpiper- Bartramia longicauda

Butterflies (8)

  • American bittern- Botaurus lentiginosus
  • Black tern- Chlidonias niger
  • Cattle egret- Bubulcus ibis
  • Common tern- Sterna hirundo
  • King rail- Rallus elegans
  • Kirtland’s warbler *E- Setophaga kirtlandii
  • Lark sparrow- Chondestes grammacus
  • Loggerhead shrike- Lanius ludovicianus
  • Northern harrier- Circus hudsonius
  • Piping plover *E- Charadrius melodus
  • Snowy egret- Egretta thula
  • Upland sandpiper- Bartramia longicauda

Caddisflies (3)

  • -Brachycentrus nigrosoma
  • – Chimarra socia
  • – Oecetis eddlestoni

Damselflies (3)

  • Lilypad forktail- Ischnura kellicotti
  • River jewelwing- Calopteryx aequabilis
  • Seepage dancer- Argia bipunctulata

Dragonflies (13)

  • American emerald- Cordulia shurtleffi
  • Blue corporal- Ladona deplanata
  • Brush-tipped emerald- Somatochlora walshii
  • Canada darner- Aeshna canadensis
  • Chalk-fronted corporal- Ladona julia
  • Elfin skimmer- Nannothemis bella
  • Frosted whiteface- Leucorrhinia frigida
  • Hine’s emerald *E- Somatochlora hineana
  • Mottled darner- Aeshna clepsydra
  • Plains clubtail- Gomphus externus
  • Racket-tailed emerald- Dorocordulia libera
  • Uhler’s sundragon- Helocordulia uhleri
  • Yellow-sided skimmer- Libellula flavida

Fishes (22)

  • Bigeye shiner- Notropis boops
  • Cisco (or Lake herring)- Coregonus artedi
  • Gilt darter- Percina evides
  • Goldeye- Hiodon alosoides
  • Iowa darter- Etheostoma exile
  • Lake sturgeon- Acipenser fulvescens
  • Longnose sucker- Catostomus catostomus
  • Mountain brook lamprey- Ichthyomyzon greeleyi
  • Northern brook lamprey- Ichthyomyzon fossor
  • Northern madtom- Noturus stigmosus
  • Ohio lamprey- Ichthyomyzon bdellium
  • Pirate perch- Aphredoderus sayanus
  • Popeye shiner- Notropis ariommus
  • Pugnose minnow- Opsopoeodus emiliae
  • Scioto madtom *E- Noturus trautmani
  • Shoal chub- Macrhybopsis hyostoma
  • Shortnose gar- Lepisosteus platostomus
  • Shovelnose sturgeon- Scaphirhynchus platorynchus
  • Spotted darter- Etheostoma maculatum
  • Spotted gar- Lepisosteus oculatus
  • Tonguetied minnow- Exoglossum laurae
  • Western banded killifish- Fundulus diaphanus menona

Isopods (2)

  • Fern cave isopod- Caecidotea filicispeluncae
  • Kindt’s cave isopod- Caecidotea insula

Mammals (6)

  • Allegheny woodrat- Neotoma magister
  • Black bear- Ursus americanus
  • Indiana myotis *E- Myotis sodalis
  • Little brown bat- Myotis lucifugus
  • Northern long-eared bat *T- Myotis septentrionalis
  • Tri-colored bat- Perimyotis subflavus

Mayflies (2)

-Rhithrogena pellucida
– Litobrancha recurvata

Midges (1)

– Rheopelopia acra

Mollusks (24)

  • Butterfly- Ellipsaria lineolata
  • Clubshell *E- Pleurobema clava
  • Eastern pondmussel- Ligumia nasuta
  • Ebonyshell- Reginaia ebenas
  • Elephantear- Elliptio crassidens crassidens
  • Fanshell *E- Cyprogenia stegaria
  • Little spectaclecase- Villosa lienosa
  • Long-solid- Fusconaia subrotunda
  • Monkeyface- Theliderma metanevra
  • Northern riffleshell *E- Epioblasma rangiana
  • Ohio pigtoe- Pleurobema cordatum
  • Pink mucket *E- Lampsilis abrupta
  • Pocketbook- Lampsilis ovata
  • Purple catspaw *E- Epioblasma obliquata
  • Purple lilliput- Toxolasma lividum
  • Pyramid pigtoe- Pleurobema rubrum
  • Rabbitsfoot *T- Theliderma cylindrica
  • Rayed bean *E- Villosa fabalis
  • Sheepnose *E- Plethobasus cyphyus
  • Snuffbox *E- Epioblasma triquetra
  • Wartyback- Cyclonaias nodulata
  • Washboard- Megalonaias nervosa
  • White catspaw *E- Epioblasma perobliqua
  • Yellow sandshell- Lampsilis tere

Moths (14)

  • Graceful underwin- Catocala gracilis
  • Hairy artesa moth- Sideridis artesta
  • Hebard’s noctuid moth- Erythroecia hebardi
  • Pointed sallow- Epiglaea apiata
  • Unexpected cycnia- Cycnia inopinatus
  • – Hypocoena enervata
  • – Lithophane semiusta
  • – Melanchra assimilis
  • – Papaipema beeriana
  • – Papaipema silphii
  • – Spartiniphaga inops
  • – Tricholita notata
  • – Ufeus plicatus
  • – Ufeus satyricus

Psuedoscorpians (1)

Buckskin cave pseudoscorpion- Apochthonius hobbsi

Reptiles (5)

  • Copperbelly watersnake *T- Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta
  • Massasauga *T- Sistrurus catenatus
  • Plains gartersnake- Thamnophis radix
  • Smooth greensnake- Opheodrys vernalis
  • Timber rattlesnake- Crotalus horridus