Plan to save minnows in danger of extinction angers ranchers

ABILENE, Texas - Plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put two small fish on the endangered species list is angering some area farmers and ranchers.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the habitat of the Sharpnose Shiner and the Smalleye Shiner is in decline so they want to protect it from agricultural and other uses.

The designation would affect people in Baylor, Crosby, Fisher, Garza, Haskell, Kent, King, Knox, Stonewall, Throckmorton, and Young counties.

At a meeting in Abilene Wednesday night, ranchers who graze and water their cattle along the Upper Brazos Basin expressed their opposition to a plan that would restrict use of about 100 feet on each side of the river to help protect the minnows habitat.

Many said their lively-hood is more important than the survival of two small fish who have made it through drought on their own for hundreds of years.

A government study indicates there may be fewer than 1,000 of the small fish surviving in the Upper Brazos River.  

Comments on the plan must be received within 60 days, on or before October 7, 2013.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said their final rule should hit the books by August 6, 2014.

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