Thursday, 4:30 PM
Feds: eels are living long and prospering
By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff
The federal government has declared that eels are not an endangered species, rebuffing a two-year quest by a janitor-cum-conservationist from Middleborough to prove that the slimy creatures are on a fast path to extinction.
Timothy A. Watts, 46, petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004 to give eels federal protection, which would have forced states and companies that use waterways to take dramatic measures to protect freshwater eels.
But after a review of eel populations from Greenland to Brazil, the agency said Tuesday that "while the eel population has declined in some areas, the speciesí overall population is not in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future."
Watts called the ruling "unfortunate for the eel" and said he would contemplate legal action to force the agencyís hand. He said that the eel gets a bad rap, with more attention and care focused on warmer, fuzzier creatures.
"Thereís no more amazing critter than the eel," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Itís certainly not a glamorous species. Itís one of those funny animals that we take for granted."
Mishra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.