|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
U.S. Fish and Wildlife SErvice will NOT CONDUCT IN-depth review to consider listing the uinta mountain snail
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reviewed a petition to list the Uinta mountain snail under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and has concluded the petition did not provide adequate information to distinguish this group of snails as a valid subspecies that could be listed under the ESA. The negative finding was published today in the Federal Register. If new, substantial information becomes available, the Service will reevaluate this finding.
The Service made the determination in response to a petition received in 1998 from the Utah Environmental Congress to list the Uinta mountain snail and designate critical habitat. The first specimen considered to be a Uinta mountain snail was found in the Ashley National Forest in Uinta County, Utah. The petition cited threats from grazing, prescribed fire, logging, and sedimentation from U.S. Forest Service road building operations.
“The Service will continue to monitor the population status, trends and ongoing management actions important to the conservation of the Uinta mountain snail,” said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region, “and we encourage interested parties to continue to gather data that will assist in these conservation efforts.”
Since locating the population, the U.S. Forest Service has taken steps to protect it by fencing the site and canceling prescribed fires. There are no scheduled or anticipated timber harvests and no road construction projects being considered that would impact the site. Off-highway vehicles and other uses near the site are limited.
Although this finding is based on the taxonomic status of the Uinta mountain snail, the Service also found that substantial information regarding potential threats to the species was neither presented in the petition nor discovered during the course of the review.
In making this determination, the Service reviewed the petition evidence and literature cited, as well as other pertinent information readily available, and did not find substantial information or a scientific consensus supporting the Uinta mountain snail as a valid subspecies that could be listed under the ESA. Additional scientific studies would be needed to determine if this group of snails is a unique subspecies.
This finding was prepared pursuant to a court-approved settlement resulting from a lawsuit filed against the Service by the Utah Environmental Congress and others.
The described Uinta mountain snail (Oreohelix eurekensis uinta) is considered to be in the genus Oreohelix, commonly called the “mountainsnail.” It is a genus of land snails endemic to western North America with distributions ranging from southwestern Canada, including Saskatchewan and British Columbia, to western Chihuahua in northern Mexico.
O. eurekensis has been documented in six localities representing four widely separated populations scattered across northern Utah. The O. e. uinta subspecies type has been described at one location in the Ashley National Forest and at a more recently discovered site identified as the Big Spring at Sheep Creek, a geological loop site on the west side of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The description of this type as a subspecies is still in question.
The ESA provides for citizens to petition the Service to take listing actions, including adding species to the lists of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants as well as removing species from the lists. The Service is required to make a 90-day finding on whether the petition presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted.
For more information about this finding please visit the Service’s web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/invertebrates or by contacting the Fish and Wildlife Service Utah Ecological Services Field Office at 801-975-3330.
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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