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U.S. Can’t Bar Man Convicted of Nonviolent Crime From Owning Gun, Court Rules


A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that a man who committed a nonviolent crime cannot be legally prevented from owning a firearm — a potential setback to gun regulations spurred by a Supreme Court ruling last year that vastly expanded the right to bear arms.

In an 11-to-4 ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned decisions by lower courts that had prevented Bryan Range, who had sued the state after being blocked from buying a shotgun for hunting and self-protection over a conviction for lying on a benefits application in the 1990s.

In a majority opinion, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman repeatedly cited the Supreme Court ruling last June, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, in which the majority established a new standard that dictated that gun laws conform to “historical traditions” dating to the 18th and 19th centuries.

“In sum, we reject the government’s contention that only ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens’ are counted among ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment,” wrote Judge Hardiman, a George W. Bush appointee who was on former President Donald J. Trump’s short list to serve on the Supreme Court after the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016.

It is unclear whether the ruling applies to similar cases: Mr. Range’s lawyer, Michael P. Gottlieb, said he brought the case for the “benefit of my client only” and believes it will make its way to the Supreme Court if the Justice Department appeals.

A spokeswoman for the department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Three judges, concurring with the majority, wrote that the decision “does not spell doom” for a section of federal law that strips gun ownership from anyone “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”

Judge Hardiman wrote that his opinion was “narrow.” But in a sharply worded dissent, Judge Patty Shwartz, an Obama appointee, said that the majority opinion would set a broad and dangerous precedent.

“While my colleagues state that their opinion is narrow, the analytical framework they have applied to reach their conclusion renders most, if not all, felon bans unconstitutional,” she wrote.

Judge Hardiman argued that punishing Mr. Range by revoking his gun rights for an offense that did not involve violence gave lawmakers too much power “to manipulate the Second Amendment” by labeling as a criminal someone, like Mr. Range, who has led an otherwise law-abiding life.

Federal laws bar people convicted of state or federal crimes that are punishable by more than a year in prison from buying weapons. In some states, including Pennsylvania, the federal ban takes effect after conviction on a misdemeanor that has a potential sentence of at least a year.

The decision, which was closely watched by national groups on both sides of the firearms debate, is the latest in a succession of federal court rulings that roll back existing gun regulations.

But most of those cases have been heard in the lower courts and only one other, over a decision that restored gun ownership rights to a man who was under a restraining order in a domestic violence, reached a federal appeals court, in New Orleans.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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Man pleads guilty to strangling woman and leaving body in Missouri woods after 3 decades


A 67-year-old man has pleaded guilty to strangling a woman in Missouri and leaving her bound body in the woods three decades ago, a newspaper reported.

Kirby R. King pleaded guilty on Friday to involuntary manslaughter and felonious restraint in the death of 22-year-old Karla Jane Delcour, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday. She was found dead with her wrists and neck bound by a cord in Franklin County woods near the city of St. Clair.

King, whose social circles overlapped with those of Delcour, was questioned in 1987 after her body was found but never charged. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case in 2018 and King was arrested in 2019, initially charged with second-degree murder. Investigators have not said if new evidence led to King’s arrest 32 years after Delcour was killed.


A man has pleaded guilty to strangling and dumping the body of a Missouri woman nearly three decades ago.


“The tireless efforts in unraveling the truth and meticulously piecing together the puzzle have not only provided closure to the victim’s family but have also made a significant impact on the community,” Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said Friday in a written statement.

Investigators believe Delcour was killed at a home in the city of Union on June 21, 1987. Her body was found about four days later 2 miles west of St. Clair, where she was living.

King’s attorney Steven Waterkotte said Monday that his client “was happy to put this all behind him.”

King will be sentenced July 12.

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US House panel investigates ties between US Interior secretary, environmentalists


Republican members of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources are raising concerns about ties between Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and an Indigenous group from her home state that advocates for halting oil and gas production on public lands.

The members on Monday sent a letter to Haaland requesting documents related to her interactions with Pueblo Action Alliance as well as those of her daughter, Somah, who has worked with the group and has rallied against fossil fuel development.

The request comes just days after Haaland decided to withdraw hundreds of square miles in New Mexico from oil and gas production for the next 20 years on the outskirts of Chaco Culture National Historical Park — an area considered sacred by some Native American communities.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, the Arkansas Republican who chairs the committee, said Congress has a duty to oversee federal agencies and the cabinet secretaries who lead them and that what he called Haaland’s “alliances” present potential conflicts of interest.

“The committee is calling on Secretary Haaland to shed light on these ties between her family and this extremist group, so we can determine the potentially unethical way these types of decisions are being made throughout the federal bureaucracy,” Westerman said in a statement.


The Interior Department had no comment on the letter, agency spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said.

Haaland — who is from the Laguna Pueblo and is the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency — has said the work to protect land around Chaco has been ongoing for decades and that numerous public meetings and consultations with tribal leaders were a part of the process.

Julia Bernal, executive director of Pueblo Action Alliance, called the Chaco decision a compromise because the group has been pushing for more expansive protections.

The Republican House committee has raised concerns over Interior Secretary Haaland’s ties to an Indigenous group that advocates to halt to oil and gas production.

“The Alliance has urged the Biden administration to protect ancestral lands and address the climate emergency by phasing out fossil fuel extraction on public lands,” Bernal told The Associated Press in an email. “Chairman Westerman’s allegations are a misguided attempt to deflect attention from the fossil fuel industry’s role in the climate crisis and the destruction of ancestral lands.”

Industry groups have suggested that Pueblo Action Alliance, Somah Haaland and others have influenced Haaland, who as secretary oversees an agency that manages more than 380,000 square miles of public lands.


The Western Energy Alliance says that Haaland and her senior officials have granted special access to Pueblo Action Alliance and its allies and have helped the group lobby members of Congress and the Interior Department on issues before the agency, including oil and gas leasing.

“Secretary Haaland has conflicts of interest that simply wouldn’t be tolerated if they were on behalf of oil and natural gas companies and should not be tolerated when they’re on behalf of environmental special interests,” Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma said Monday.

Among the documents the House panel is requesting are copies of the ethical pledges signed by Haaland and any waivers that have been granted to her.

The request also calls for communications between the secretary and Somah Haaland related to oil and gas leasing on federal lands, Pueblo Action Alliance, efforts to lobby members of Congress or other government officials about withdrawing federal land from development and a protest at the agency’s headquarters in October 2021.

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Bryan Kohberger describes cutting fish, wrapping meat in creepy self assessment


FIRST ON FOX: Idaho student murders suspect Bryan Kohberger once boasted of his daily boxing routine while describing how he “cut fish” and worked as a “meat wrapper” in a security job application obtained by Fox News Digital.

The 28-year-old criminology Ph.D. student turned quadruple-homicide suspect previously wrote that his “special skills” including rigorous punching workouts and a year of youth law enforcement training in a 2015 job application to work school security.

“I boxed after school every day at the Jesse Harris Boxing Gym on 209 next to Big Cheese Pizza when it was still open,” he declared. “I also attended a year of the Law Enforcement Program and a year of HVAC.”

He was vying to work as either a fill-in janitor, courier or security guard for the Pleasant Valley School District in his Pennsylvania hometown.


Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom, looking at defense attorney Anne Taylor, for his arraignment hearing in Latah County District Court, Monday, May 22, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022.  (Zach Wilkinson/Pool via REUTERS)

His employment history showed only two previous gigs – seven months at the Big Brown Fish And Pay Lakes in 2011, and four months in the butcher and produce departments at a BJ’s Wholesale club in Stroudsburg in 2015. He added that he did some side work for his father, a district maintenance worker, leaning how to do “pipe work” and HVAC.

Read Bryan Kohberer’s application (Mobile users go here)

Kohberger, pictured in yearbooks as a chubby teen, also appeared to be proud of his weight loss, writing about it in a section where he was asked to describe professional and civic activities.

“I was a boxer, and I am still a runner,” he wrote. “I believe dedication and perseverance are the most important skills learned from my activities. I lost 130 lbs at age 15 into age 16 whilst attending school at PVHS and MCTI. I believe this is proof that I have the required dedication to be successful.”

Bryan Kohberger's sophomore and senior photos side by side

A side by side of Kohberger’s sophomore Pleasant Valley High School yearbook photo and his senior year. On a job application to the district, he boasted of losing 130 pounds.  (Stephanie Pagones/Fox News Digital)

He also claimed to have been a champion “extemporaneous speaker” – a competitive improvisational speaking style.


Kohberger wound up getting the job for the Pleasant Valley School District, starting out as a “casual” security guard then earning a promotion to part-timer. The district outfitted him with size 13 boots, several XL shirts, a jacket and pants with a 34-inch waist.

Byran Kohberger in black and white photo

A yearhbook photo of Bryan Kohberger in a high school law enforcement class doing a push up. He referenced this program in his job application as well. (Stephanie Pagones/Fox News Digital)

However, his employment came to an end on June 22, 2021, when he submitted a resignation letter acknowledging that “I understand that if I do not resign, I have a right to a school board hearing to determine if I should be dismissed from employment with the School District.”


The district declined to disclose further information about his departure, stating that records related to “non-criminal investigations,” complaints, written criticisms of an employee and disciplinary materials are exempt from disclosure under Pennsylvania’s public records laws.

A person fillets a fish, inset: a ka-bar knife

Stock images show a person filleting a fish on a cutting board and, inset, a Ka-Bar knife, the same type of weapon believed to have been used in the Nov. 13, 2022 massacre of four University of Idaho students. (iStock)

The records do show, however, that Kohberger was placed on leave without pay for at least one day in February 2021 due to “expired clearance.”


Some of Kohberger’s claims in the application may have been exaggerated.

WATCH: Bryan Kohberger’s former boss says Idaho suspect didn’t last long

Charles Conklin, who founded the Big Brown Fish And Pay Lakes in Effort, Pennsylvania, 35 years ago, told Fox News Digital in March that Kohberger didn’t last long on the job and never got any training with a filleting knife.

“When kids come in here, their jobs are to keep the place clean, pick up paper all day long, help customers catch fish, fix poles, and then we try to train them how to fillet fish,” he said. “And if they get good at it, then they can fillet customers’ fish.”

Kohberger wasn’t around long enough to get to that point, he said.

Conklin said they parted ways with him after just three weeks.

But Kohberger, on his application, claimed to have worked there for from March to October.

A split photo of the deceased students.

University of Idaho students from left to right: Ethan Chapin, 20; Xana Kernodle, 20; Madison Mogen, 21; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21. All four were stabbed to death in an off-campus rental home in Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13, 2022. (Jazzmin Kernodle via AP/Instagram/ @kayleegoncalves)

“I cut the fish to the specifications of the customer!” he wrote. His reason for leaving, he added, was “needed one season.”

Kohberger went on to complete a master’s degree in criminal justice at Desales University and began his Ph.D. studies at Washington State University in Pullman last fall. 

Shortly before the Thanksgiving break, four students at the neighboring University of Idaho were stabbed to death in a 4 a.m. home invasion attack, according to the Moscow Police Department there.

Idaho victims last photo

Madison Mogen, top left, smiles on the shoulders of her best friend, Kaylee Goncalves, as they pose with Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle,, and two other housemates in Goncalves’ final Instagram post, shared the day before the four students were stabbed to death. (@kayleegoncalves/Instagram)

The victims were 21-year-olds Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves and 20-year-olds Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.


It would be roughly seven weeks before police arrested a suspect – Kohberger – at his parents’ house in the Poconos. 

He is being held without bail on four charges of first-degree murder and another of felony burglary. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Trial is scheduled for the beginning of October.

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Biden administration vows to improve efforts to battle US drug overdoses


President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday pledged an improved effort to combat drug overdoses that claimed the lives of about 100,000 Americans last year, using a White House summit to tout a multifaceted approach to tackle synthetic and illicit drugs such as the powerful opioid fentanyl.

“Today’s summit is needed because the global and regional drug environment has changed dramatically from just even a few years ago,” Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the summit, being held jointly with public health officials from Mexico and Canada.

Gupta added that “synthetic drugs have truly become a global threat.”


Biden administration officials said they would use tools such as medications to reverse opioid overdoses and use data collection to guide their efforts.

“Today, we’re here to … look at how our collective response can be improved and the role data collection has on saving lives,” Gupta said.

More than 109,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses, with about two-thirds of those involving synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, according to data shared during the summit.

Plastic bags of fentanyl are displayed on a table at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection area in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

An unprecedented number of people are dying from overdoses and poisonings in the United States, Mexico and Canada every year, Gupta said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said a regional approach to deal with the overdose and addiction crisis is critical.


The Biden administration last month said it was seeking to meet with the makers of the life-saving medication naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses, in an effort to increase access and reduce cost.

Opioid abuse has plagued the United States for more than two decades and has killed more than a half million Americans, according to federal data, turning the highly addictive pain medications into a public health crisis.


The White House in April said the Unites States planned to expand efforts to disrupt illicit financial activities by drug traffickers involved in the fentanyl trade by increasing the use of sanctions.

Some U.S. lawmakers have been calling on the Biden administration to take a harder line and ratchet up pressure on Mexico to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. A handful of Republican legislators have called for the U.S. military to bomb Mexican cartels and their labs inside Mexico – a proposal the Biden administration has not embraced.

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Mexico lowers alert level for Popocatepetl volcano


MEXICO CITY — Mexico lowered the alert level on the Popocatepetl volcano Tuesday after more than two weeks of its eruptions of gas and ash had drawn the attention of those living in its shadow and people around the world.

The 17,797-foot mountain just 45 miles southeast of Mexico City and known affectionately as “El Popo,” had spread ash over towns downwind for days and spurred authorities to dust off their evacuation plans.

Some 25 million people live within 60 miles of its crater. But ultimately no evacuations were ordered and experts said the emissions from the increased activity actually made a catastrophic eruption less likely.

National Civil Defense Coordinator Laura Velázquez lowered the alert level back to yellow phase two Tuesday on the recommendation of a scientific advisory panel, according to a statement from the government. It had been at yellow phase three, just a notch below a red alert on the stop light-style scale.

Scientists said they had observed a slight decrease in activity, including less ash falling and fewer incandescent rocks shooting into the air. The frequency and intensity of its exhalations have decreased.

Velázquez had raised the alert level to yellow phase three on May 21.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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US delays ‘forever chemical’ trial against 3M


A U.S. judge on Monday granted a delay of a trial in a lawsuit brought by a Florida city against industrial conglomerate 3M Co over water contamination from toxic “forever chemicals,” after the parties said they were close to a settlement.

3M shares were down about 3% in afternoon trade.

“The parties informed the Court last evening that they have reached a stage in those discussions where they believe a final binding agreement is achievable in the near future,” U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston, South Carolina, said in the order.


The judge asked for weekly updates, and said he would reschedule the trial if an agreement is not reached within 21 days.

Set to have been a test case, the lawsuit is one of the more than 4,000 filed against 3M and other chemical companies by U.S. municipalities, state governments and individuals that have been consolidated in the federal court in South Carolina.

The company was scheduled to face trial in the South Carolina federal court on Monday in a lawsuit brought by Stuart, Florida, accusing it of manufacturing PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, despite knowing for decades that the chemicals can cause cancer and other ailments.

The 3M global headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota, is seen on March 4, 2020.  (REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi)

“We are hopeful that this delay will lead to a meaningful settlement in the near term,” said Paul Napoli, a partner at law firm Napoli Shkolnik, who is representing the plaintiffs.

3M spokesperson Sean Lynch said in a statement the parties are “making material and significant progress toward a resolution of this matter.”

The city of Stuart claimed in its 2018 lawsuit that the company made or sold firefighting foams containing PFAS that polluted local soil and groundwater, and sought more than $100 million for filtration and remediation.


3M announced in December that it would stop producing PFAS by 2025. It has said in court documents that PFAS have not been linked with health problems at the levels being discovered in drinking water.

Bloomberg News reported last Friday that 3M had struck a tentative $10 billion deal with U.S. cities and towns to resolve the PFAS water pollution lawsuits it is facing. Reuters could not immediately confirm that report.

Dubbed “forever chemicals” as they do not easily break down in the human body or environment, PFAS are used in a wide range of products from non-stick cookware to cosmetics and have been linked to cancer, hormonal dysfunction and environmental damage.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called PFAS an “urgent public health and environmental issue.”

The agency has taken several steps in recent years to tighten regulations for the chemicals, and in March announced the first-ever national drinking water standards for six of the chemicals.

Three major chemicals companies – Chemours Co, DuPont de Nemours Inc and Corteva Inc – said on Friday that they had reached an agreement in principle for $1.19 billion to settle claims that they contaminated U.S. public water systems with PFAS.

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Smoke From Canada’s Wildfires Worsens Air Quality in Northern U.S.


Hundreds of wildfires continued to blaze on Tuesday across Canada, exacerbating an already active wildfire season that was only expected to worsen, and sending smoke into portions of the United States, creating poor air quality levels.

In Ontario, a layer of haze blanketed parts of Ottawa and Toronto, where Canadian officials warned residents about the poor air quality, as smoke moved in to portions of northern New York State and Vermont. All of New York City was under air quality alert on Tuesday because of the smoke; by the afternoon, the Manhattan skyline was obscured by hazy skies.

There were more than 400 active wildfires in Canada on Tuesday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, with more than 200 deemed to be “out of control.”

In eastern Canada, Quebec was most affected by wildfires as of early afternoon on Tuesday, with more than 150 active blazes across the area, according to the fire agency. Residents in some areas were being encouraged to shut their windows and doors, local officials in Quebec said.

Videos and images showed some fires blazing for miles, sending dark smoke plumes billowing into the sky.

At a news conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in contact with local officials across Canada about the fires.

“This is a scary time for a lot of people,” Mr. Trudeau said.

As of Monday, an estimated 26,000 people across Canada had been evacuated from their homes because of wildfires, Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety, said at the news conference.

“The images that we have seen so far this season are some of the most severe ever witnessed in Canada,” Mr. Blair said.

Many Canadians who have had to evacuate in recent days had just a few hours to pack before fleeing their homes, Mr. Trudeau said.

“When people lose their homes, they don’t just lose a roof and their possessions,” Mr. Trudeau said. “They lose a special place where they saw their children grow up, where they built a life for themselves. This is incredibly difficult and heartbreaking.”

Bands of smoke from the numerous wildfires were expected to shift southward across the border on Tuesday, creating hazy skies and prompting the U.S. National Weather Service to issue air quality alerts for parts of the upper Great Lakes and the Northeast.

Large swaths of Minnesota were under air quality alerts through the evening on Tuesday, the Weather Service said. Light winds were expected to push smoke from wildfires in Quebec across Minnesota. Smoke was also predicted to move into the state off Lake Superior.

Weather officials warned that people more sensitive to poor air quality, such as people with lung disease and heart disease, children and older adults, should limit certain activities outdoors.

Farther east, air quality alerts were also in place for multiple counties in upstate New York and New York City through midnight. Similar alerts were issued for parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Satellite images of North America on Tuesday showed light brown smoke streaming south from the fires. The smoke appeared to be particularly thick over portions of Quebec, Ontario and New York. Hazy conditions could also reach as far south as the Carolinas.

John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in New York, said that a thick area of smoke over Lake Ontario was expected to move toward the New York City area by late afternoon or early evening on Tuesday.

“It will probably linger around through much of the night,” Mr. Cristantello said.

In addition to the poor air quality levels, smoke from the wildfires could a create vivid, reddish sunset, similar to what New York saw last month when smoke from Canadian wildfires had drifted south.

Such sunsets and poor air quality levels could persist this summer if Canada continues to see many wildfires, Mr. Cristantello said.

In Canada, Mr. Blair said that hundreds of soldiers had been deployed across the country to help with firefighting efforts. Other government agencies were on standby if wildfires damaged critical infrastructure, Mr. Blair said.

Mr. Trudeau said on Monday that forecasts indicated that “this may be an especially severe wildfire season throughout the summer.”

To date, there had already been more than 2,200 wildfires in Canada this year, according to the country’s fire agency.

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Michigan deputies, firefighters rescue toddler who stopped breathing after falling into family’s pool: video


Deputies and fire personnel in Michigan are being praised as heroes after a sheriff released heart-pounding bodycam footage of the rescuers saving an unresponsive toddler who fell into the family pool over the weekend.

The child’s mother reported that she found the child in the swimming pool and not breathing on Saturday morning in Mount Clemens, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said.

The father immediately began CPR on the child until deputies and fire personnel arrived within moments of receiving the call and took over life-saving measures.

Officer-worn bodycam footage shows personnel working on the unresponsive child to get her breathing and her heart beating.


Deputies arrived at the scene within moments of the call and took over life-saving measures from the child’s father, authorities said. (Macomb County Sheriff’s Office)

“Come on, baby! Come on. I got a heartbeat,” one deputy can be heard saying.

deputy saving toddler heartbeat

A deputy can be heard saying that he found a heartbeat as he continued to work on the unresponsive child. (Macomb County Sheriff’s Office)

Officials determined time was too precious to wait for additional personnel and rushed the child to a hospital inside a deputy’s vehicle with fire personnel riding along and continuing life-saving measures.

At the hospital, doctors found the child was breathing and had a pulse, the sheriff’s office said. 

fire personnel saving child

Deputies and fire personnel rushed the child to a hospital in a patrol car because time was of the essence, the sheriff’s office said. (Macomb County Sheriff’s Office)


The toddler was then airlifted to another hospital with a Level-II pediatric trauma designation and was reported to be in stable condition.

“This type of situation is one of the worst a parent can experience,” Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said in a statement. “The responding Deputies and Fire personnel acted swiftly, ensuring the toddler received lifesaving measures and hospital transportation as quickly as possible. I applaud these public servants for their exceptional efforts.”


As of Monday afternoon, the sheriff’s office said the parents report that the toddler has been released from the hospital and is expected to fully recover.

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Federal conservation initiatives announced for endangered candy darter in West Virginia


  • Two federal conservation initiatives were recently announced on the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, aimed at supporting the candy darter.
  • The candy darter is a vibrant and diminutive fish residing in 18 dispersed populations across West Virginia’s Greenbrier, Bluestone, and Gauley river watersheds.
  • The Upper Greenbrier Watershed fish passage work will take place in area considered critical habitat for the candy darter’s survival and recovery.

The candy darter, a small, brightly colored fish found in 18 small populations scattered through West Virginia’s Greenbrier, Bluestone and Gauley river watersheds, will benefit from two federal conservation initiatives announced earlier this month on the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.

The candy darter was listed as an endangered species in 2018, after disappearing from half of its historic range and facing the risk of extinction from stream sedimentation, pollution, habitat fragmentation and hybridization. The fish also is known to live in several New River tributary streams in two Western Virginia counties.

The rainbow-colored fish has been identified as one of 32 endangered or threatened species in the nation to receive top priority in a $62.5 million project to accelerate recovery planning for imperiled wildlife and plant species.

The funding, provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hire additional biologists to assist in the effort of drafting recovery plans for the targeted species.

During the next several years, the biologists will be involved in prioritizing and implementing recovery plans for 300 other species now listed under the Endangered Species Act.


While the candy darter continues to face survival challenges from stream sedimentation from logging, mining and other forms of human activity, a new threat has emerged in recent years due to the arrival of another species of darter in its habitat range.

Until the 1990s, the variegate darter was not known to exist in the Kanawha River watershed above Kanawha Falls. But late in final decade of the past century, the fish began turning up miles upstream from the natural barrier.

Biologists believe it likely that an angler using variegate darters for bait transported a container of the “minnows” upstream of the waterfall for use in catching game fish, releasing some of the bait darters, which gradually made their way into the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge.

The two closely related species can interbreed and produce hybrid offspring, with the more abundant variegate darter expected to eventually replace the candy darter in areas where both are known to exist.

In addition to the candy darter, several imperiled freshwater mussel species and an endangered bat species — all known to exist in West Virginia and a number of other states — are also on the priority list for expedited recovery planning.

Federal conservation initiatives have been announced for the endangered candy darte in West Virginia. 

They include:

The endangered sheepnose mussel, known to exist in 25 streams in 14 states, including sections of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers in West Virginia.

The endangered spectaclecase mussel, now found in 20 streams in 11 states, including West Virginia’s Kanawha River.

The endangered snuffbox mussel, now found in segments of streams in 14 states, including West Virginia’s Elk River and several of its tributaries.

The endangered northern long-eared bat, a once-common species found in 37 states, including West Virginia, but now with a population that has declined by up to 99% since the deadly fungal disease white nose syndrome arrived in the United States in 2006.


The second new federal conservation initiative targeting the candy darter is the $939,500 Upper Greenbrier Watershed Fish Passage Program. Through it, seven undersized, poorly functioning or non-functioning culverts restricting the movement of candy darters, brook trout, eastern hellbenders and other forms of aquatic life, will be replaced with fish-friendly stream crossing structures.

Money to pay for the project comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The fish-friendly, under-road, stream crossing structures are designed to improve connectivity between seven upper Greenbrier River tributary streams and the main stem river, and effectively reopen 25 miles of currently blocked streams. When complete, the project will improve climate resiliency by providing a network of high-elevation, cold water habitats for fish to occupy.

The replacement structures, all located in Pocahontas County, also are designed to withstand higher flow events than the culverts they replace, benefiting public safety and access to outdoor recreation.

Long-range plans call for the Upper Greenbrier Watershed Fish Passage Project to replace similar under-road barriers between rivers and tributary streams to create a network of 105 miles of connected cold water habitat along the East Fork and West Fork of the Greenbrier within the next 10 years.


The project was planned through the inter-agency National Fish Passage Program, which focuses on supporting the recovery of aquatic species listed under the Endangered Species Act, such as the candy darter.

The Upper Greenbrier Watershed fish passage work will take place in area considered critical habitat for the candy darter’s survival and recovery.

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