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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

April 21, 2005

Contact: Jeri Wood (208) 378-5243
               Jessica Homyack (307) 772-2374 ext 24
                Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-4578

 SERVICE TO REVIEW STATUS
OF FOUR SPRINGSNAIL SPECIES INCLUDING THE JACKSON LAKE SPRING SNAIL

Public comment period closes June 20, 2005

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is conducting an in-depth review of the status of four springsnail species, including the endangered Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis idahoensis), a species that occurs in Idaho’s Snake River near the CJ Strike Reservoir upstream to Bancroft Springs, Idaho.  The Service also will review the status of the Harney Lake springsnail from eastern Oregon, the Jackson Lake springsnail from western Wyoming, and the Columbia springsnail from the lower Columbia River, to determine whether they should be listed as threatened or endangered. 

The review was prompted by two separate petitions concerning the four springsnail species. One petition seeks the delisting of the Idaho springsnail, while the second petition seeks the listing of the other three springsnail species. Both petitions cite new scientific information suggesting the four species may be the same. 

“The taxonomic classification of the Idaho springsnail used in our 1992 listing decision has been questioned by some members of the scientific community,” said Jeff Foss, Field Supervisor of the Service’s Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office in Boise. “It is therefore appropriate to examine the taxonomy of the Idaho springsnail, and the other springsnails more closely, as well as their listing classification and current status.”  

Because a status review is also required once every 5-years for all ESA listed species, the Service has elected to prepare these two reviews for the Idaho springsnail simultaneously. The purpose of a 5-year review is to determine whether the species is properly classified as threatened or endangered, or has recovered. The 5-year review process will evaluate population data, factors affecting the species, and ongoing conservation measures.  During the review, the Idaho springsnail will continue to receive full Endangered Species Act protection. On June 28, 2004, the Service was petitioned by the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and Idaho Power Company to delist the Idaho springsnail. The petition was supported by the Bureau of Reclamation. The petition included a peer-reviewed report by Dr. Robert Hershler that suggests the taxonomic status of the Idaho springsnail should be revised.  The suggested taxonomic revision would place the four springsnails into one species,  Pyrgulopsis robusta.  

On August 5, 2004, the Service received a second petition on springsnails.  The second petition is from a group of academics and environmental organizations requesting that the Service add the Jackson Lake springsnail, the Harney Lake springsnail, and the Columbia springsnail to the federal list of threatened and endangered species because of habitat threats and nonnative species.  The listing petition also cites the suggested taxonomic revision and acknowledges that the  four springsnails may be one species (Pyrgulopsis robusta).  However, the listing petition states that whether assessed individually or as one species, all four springsnails need the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act.  

The Service has now completed its 90-day findings on both of the petitions and found that they present substantial scientific information for further review.  Under the petition process, a comprehensive status review, called a “12-month status review,” follows a positive 90-day petition finding. This review will examine whether the Idaho springsnail should be delisted and whether the other three springsnail species should be listed. 

The Idaho springsnail was listed as endangered on December 14, 1992, primarily because the free-flowing, cool water environments it requires in order to survive and breed were affected by deteriorating water quality due to reservoir development, river diversions, and habitat modification. A recovery plan for Idaho springsnail and four other aquatic species was published by the Service in 1995. 

A 60-day public comment period on this status review begins today and ends June 20, 2005. Information and comments should be submitted to the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, Idaho 83709. Comments may also be faxed to 208-378-5262, or e-mailed to fw1srbocomment@fws.gov.   Please include “Idaho Springsnail Review Comments” in the title line for faxes and e-mails. If our Internet connection is disrupted, please submit your comments by mail or fax to the number above.  

Information received in response to this notice, and review results, will be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the above address. The documents may also be viewed online at http://idahoes.fws.gov. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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