On Friday, Aug. 10, approximately 500 blacknose shiners were released into the headwaters of Big Darby Creek at The Nature Conservancy’s Big Darby Creek Nature Preserve, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). This release is part of an ongoing effort between the ODNR Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Ohio State University’s Stream and River Ecology Laboratory to breed and ultimately release rare native fishes into areas they formerly occupied.
The blacknose shiner is a species of the minnow family found in natural lakes, wetlands and slow-moving, meandering prairie streams in parts of the Midwest. The species once occurred in scattered locations across northern and western Ohio but was extirpated by the early 1980s due to land-use change, habitat impairment and declines in water quality. With improvements in water quality resulting from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act, biologists hope that the released fish will establish a self-sustaining wild population and potentially spread to other areas of Big Darby Creek.
Reintroducing native species into streams and rivers increases biodiversity, and it helps maintain healthy, functional aquatic ecosystems. The Nature Conservancy has restored what was once a ditch into a healthy stream, creating an ideal habitat for this species, which hasn’t been seen in Ohio for more than 30 years.
People can help by donating to the Wildlife Diversity Fund. The ODNR Division of Wildlife was originally created during a time when wildlife populations were vanishing at an alarming rate across Ohio. The mission of the division was and still is to manage, protect and restore wildlife populations to improve quality of life for Ohioans. Nearly all wildlife conservation in Ohio is funded by people who hunt, fish and trap. The Wildlife Diversity Fund is an important way for all wildlife enthusiasts to help restore and manage endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of special interest.
Donations to the Wildlife Diversity Fund benefit wildlife projects across the state, like reintroducing blacknose shiners, trumpeter swans and Karner blue butterflies, as well as increasing numbers of rare species such as Lake Erie watersnakes, bald eagles and hellbenders. The Wildlife Diversity Fund also allows ODNR to form partnerships with Ohio’s zoos to help create exhibits and displays, as well as educational products and publications for students, teachers and wildlife enthusiasts. Donations can be made by purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp or through the income tax donation program.