Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

August 16, 2010

Contacts: Ann Carlson 303-236-4264

               Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578

 

Petition Seeking Endangered Species Act Protection for the Brian Head Mountainsnail Does Not Establish Need for Listing

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined that the petition to list the Brian Head mountainsnail (Oreohelix parawanensis), found in Iron County, Utah as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act does not provide substantial information indicating that the species may be warranted for listing.

 

The Service made this determination in response to a petition received in July 2007 from Forest Guardians (now WildEarth Guardians) requesting that the Service list 206 species, including Brian Head mountainsnail.

 

In February 2009, the Service published an initial finding regarding 165 of the 206 petitioned species, concluding that the petition did not present substantial information that listing of those species may be warranted; this finding included the Brian Head mountainsnail. 

 

That finding mistakenly included the Brian Head mountainsnail in the category of species for which no information was provided in the petition.  The Brian Head mounatinsnail should have been placed in the category of species where some information on the species was provided, but that the information was not substantial. 

 

Subsequent to the 2009 finding, WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit over the not-substantial determination.  In a stipulated settlement agreement, the Service agreed to reassess the petition with respect to the Brian Head mountainsnail and issue a new 90-day petition finding.  Today’s finding satisfies that stipulated settlement.

 

The Brian Head mountainsnail is reported from one localized population at a rock slide on the southwest slope of Brian Head Peak, Iron County, Utah.  In 2002, the first living examples (18 individuals) of the species were documented at 4 of 14 small survey stations within an area of about 11 hectares. This data represents the best information on Brian Head mountainsnail abundance.  While several potential threats were mentioned in the NatureServe database and in Utah Division of Wildlife Resources documents, none of the threats were verified to actually exist or to be affecting the species. 

 

The petition cited the species’ rarity as a threat in and of itself.  Information on a species’ rarity is relevant to the conservation status of a species.  Generally, a species that has a geographically restricted range is likely to be more susceptible to environmental threats (e.g., fire, flood, drought, human land use), if they occur, than a species that is more widespread.  A single event could affect a larger total percentage of the range of a rare species than of a widespread species.  However, for the Brian Head mountainsnail, we have no substantial information to evaluate whether any environmental or human-caused threats are negatively affecting the species or are likely to do so in the foreseeable future. 

 

The ESA provides for citizens and organizations to petition the Service to add to or remove species from the lists of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants. The Service is required to make a 90-day finding on whether the petition presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted.

 

The petition finding will be published in the Federal Register on August 17, 2010.

 

For more information about this finding, please visit the Service’s web site at:  http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/endspp/206SpeciesPetition/index.html

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 

                                                                          - FWS -