Last month, Indiana declared three animals endangered species in the state — including a native coldwater fish called the cisco. Because runoff pollution and algal blooms have polluted its habitat, the fish’s numbers have been going down for decades.
Back in the 1950s, ciscoes lived in more than 40 lakes in the state. Now they only live in seven in northeast Indiana — Failing Lake, Indiana Lake, North Twin and South Twin lakes, Lake Gage, Eve Lake, and Crooked Lake.
“The need to preserve water quality of these lakes is vital because once the water quality is degraded, it's costly and difficult to restore," said Matthew Linn, a fisheries biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Linn hopes listing the cisco as an endangered species will encourage conservation practices in areas that drain into those lakes.
"In urban areas, it may be, you know, a rain garden somewhere. In an agricultural part of a watershed, it could be putting cover crops on a field that hasn’t had cover crops in the past," he said.
As of Dec. 17, Indiana anglers will no longer be able to fish for the cisco. The ground-dwelling bird, the ruffed grouse, and another fish — the western sand darter — have also been listed as state endangered species.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.