A tiny, blind spider that lives in an Austin-area cave called Pickle Pit just got some bad news.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in the Federal Register on Wednesday that the Warton’s cave meshweaver, which has only been found in Pickle Pit, a privately owned shallow cave in Travis County, is not eligible for endangered species protection. The reason: It’s not actually a distinct species.
It was a deflating end for the the eyeless arachnid's supporters, who had been in the dark for the 20 years since Cicurina wartoni was first listed as a candidate for endangered species protection. In recent years, researchers have suggested that the spider should be consolidated with three other types previously thought to be distinct species.
The news means that the spider is not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act, which imposes penalties for trafficking, harming or killing endangered species.
But there is a silver lining for the minute weaver, which can now at least take solace in knowing it’s not alone in the world.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/08/13/pickle-pit-spider-not-endangered-and-not-a-species/.