MIAMI -

A settlement agreement requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether nine species need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned in 2010 and 2011 for protection for three freshwater species, a fox, two birds and three other animals.

According to a settlement reached Monday, the wildlife service will make a decision about whether to declare each species to be threatened or endangered.

Under a 2010 agreement with the wildlife service, the center can seek fast-tracked decisions for 10 species each year.

Monday's agreement includes the bridled darter, the Panama City crayfish, the Suwannee moccasin shell mussel, the eastern hellbender salamander, the Florida Keys mole skink, MacGillivray's seaside sparrow, boreal toad, the Sierra Nevada red fox and Bicknell's thrush.