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 9, 2007

Contact:  Jeff Foss, 208-378-5243

                                                                                                                   

 

SERVICE REMOVES IDAHO SPRINGSNAIL

FROM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the Idaho springsnail (Prygulopsis idahoensis) no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

 

The Service made this decision after finding that four groups of freshwater springsnails living in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, including the Idaho springsnail, actually comprise one species, Pyrgulopsis robusta.  The four groups of springsnails include the Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis  idahoensis), the Jackson Lake springsnail (Pyrgulopsis robusta), the Harney Lake springsnail (Pyrgulopsis hendersoni), and the Columbia springsnail (Pyrgulopsis sp. A). All four are now considered one species,

Pyrgulopsis robusta, commonly referred to as the Jackson Lake springsnail.

 

Because the Idaho springsnail is now categorized as the new species P. robusta, the Service is removing it from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

 

The newly-combined P. robusta occurs in the lower and middle Columbia River, in at least 52 springs in southeast Oregon, in 214 river miles of the Snake River in Idaho, and in 2 springs in Wyoming. 

 

“We have learned through peer reviewed genetic studies that the Idaho springsnail, which was listed in 1992 as an endangered species, is not a separate species, and is now grouped with a new species (P. robusta). This newly-combined species is distributed over a wider geographic area than in the original listing and does not need ESA protection,” said Jeff Foss, Field Supervisor of the Service’s Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office in Boise, Idaho.

 

The snail was added to the list of threatened and endangered species in 1992 as a result of habitat modification, deteriorating water quality, restriction to free-flowing cool water habitats, significant range reduction, the appearance of the invasive New Zealand mud snail, and potential impacts from several proposed hydroelectric dams. At the time of listing, the Idaho springsnail was known to occur in only 35 river miles in the middle Snake River.

 

Following a status review, the Service published a finding in September 2006, that the best scientific information available indicated that Prygulopsis robusta did not require protection under the ESA. Pursuant to that finding, the Service also published a proposed rule to delist the Idaho springsnail due to the taxonomic revision.

 

The Service will continue to monitor the status of Pyrgulopsis robusta and will accept additional information and comments from all governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party concerning the species. If future information demonstrates declines in P. robusta populations, the agency may re-initiate a status review of the species to assess its status.

 

Today's decision, published in today’s Federal Register, becomes effective in 30 days.

 

For further information, please contact Jeff Foss, Field Supervisor, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 368, Boise, Idaho 83709, 208-378-5243. 

— FWS —

 

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 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 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.

 

August 6, 2007

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Idaho Springsnail Delisting

  

What is being announced?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Idaho springsnail no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act. It will be removed from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species 30 days from publication of this rule in the Federal Register.

 

The Service made this decision after accepting a new scientific finding that four groups of freshwater springsnails living in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, including the Idaho springsnail, are actually one species, Pyrgulopsis robusta.  

 

Because the Idaho springsnail is now considered to be a member of the newly-combined species Pyrgulopsis robusta, the Service has determined that taking the Idaho springsnail off the list of threatened and endangered species is warranted.

 

The Service obtained genetic studies that the Idaho springsnail, which was listed in 1992 as an endangered species, is no longer a separate species and is now grouped with a new species (P. robusta). This newly-combined species is distributed over a wider geographic area than in the original listing, and is no longer in need of ESA protection.

 

On what basis did the Service make this determination?

The Service conducted a status review of the newly-combined species Prygulopsis robusta. Based on the findings of the status review, the Service published the findings of a 12-month status review on September 28, 2006 which determined that Prygulopsis robusta does not require protection under the Act and would not be placed in the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species.

 

The Service also published a proposed delisting rule on September 28, 2006 as a result of the status review, noting substantial information existed indicating that delisting the Idaho springsnail may be warranted because of the taxonomic revision that includes the Idaho springsnail as a member of the newly-combined species Prygulopsis robusta. 

 

What four groups of springsnails are now being classified as one species, Pyrgulopsis robusta.?

The four groups of springsnails include the Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis

idahoensis), the Jackson Lake springsnail (Pyrgulopsis robusta), the

Harney Lake springsnail (Pyrgulopsis hendersoni), and the Columbia

springsnail (Pyrgulopsis sp. A). All four are now considered one species,

Pyrgulopsis robusta.

 

Why did the Service conduct a status review of the Idaho springsnail and three other springsnails that occur in Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington?

The ESA requires that if a petition to list or delist a species contains substantial scientific and commercial information suggesting the action may be warranted, the agency must make a finding within 12 months of receiving the petition.

 

On June 28, 2004, the Service received a petition from the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and the Idaho Power Company requesting that the Idaho springsnail be delisted based on a recent taxonomic revision of the species.

 

On August 5, 2004, a second petition was received from Dr. Peter Bowler, the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Native Ecosystems, the Western Watersheds Project, and the Xerces Society, requesting that the four springsnails be listed under the ESA. This listing petition cited habitat loss and degradation from spring development, domestic livestock grazing, and groundwater withdrawal, among other factors, as threats to the continued existence of these three northwestern springsnails.

 

The listing petition also cited the taxonomic revision and acknowledged that the four springsnails may be one species (Pyrgulopsis robusta) but contended that whether assessed individually, or as one species, all four springsnails deserved the protection of the ESA.

 

On April 20, 2005, the Service determined that both petitions contained substantial information suggesting that delisting the Idaho springsnail or listing all four species may be warranted and initiated a 12-month status review of the springsnail group. 

 

What information did the Service use to make this decision?

The Endangered Species Act requires the agency to consider the best scientific and commercial data available as well as efforts being made by states or other entities to protect a species when making a listing determination. To meet this standard, agency staff systematically collected all the available information on the Idaho, Jackson Lake, Harney Lake, and Columbia springsnails, their habitats, and factors affecting the species from a wide array of sources. The scientific literature on these springsnails is relatively scarce, but the agency received a substantial amount of unpublished information from other federal agencies, states, universities, private industry, and individuals. The agency compiled all this data and information into a single document, called a draft “Best Available Information,” or BAI document.

 

Does this decision mean that there is no concern about the future of the species?

No. The Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor the status of Pyrgulopsis robusta and will accept additional information and comments from all governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party concerning the species. If future information demonstrates declines in P. robusta populations, the agency may re-initiate a status review of the species to assess its status.

 

What is being done to conserve Pyrgulopsis robusta throughout its range?

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s recent spring management guide is the best example of a conservation effort to maintain springsnail habitats and populations. It covers numerous spring species and functions, and specifically discusses springsnail conservation. Aside from this effort, habitat protection in the form of riparian, spring, or stream system maintenance constitutes the primary range-wide conservation action in place to conserve populations of Pyrgulopsis robusta. Numerous programs are in place from multiple state and federal agencies that protect and conserve riparian, spring, and stream systems on the lands for which they are responsible.

 

What is “delisting?” (Section 4 of the ESA)

Delisting is the removal of a species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants and can result from a species going extinct, successful recovery efforts, or, a finding, in cases such as the springsnail, that the best available information does not support the original data used to list the species.

 

Why, when, and how are species removed from the list of endangered and threatened species?

The process of delisting a species may be started by a petition to delist the species, a 5-year review of the species’ status or a review of whether the goals for recovering the species, as outlined in the species’ recovery plan, have been achieved. The Service assesses the species' status in light of the best available information on population distribution, numbers and trends; seeks advice from a variety of species experts and considers whether any new information indicates that the species no longer warrants listing or, as in the case of the Idaho springsnail, is no longer considered a listable entity, as defined by the Endangered Species Act.

 

The Service first proposes delisting in the Federal Register and then seek the opinion of independent species experts, other federal agencies, state biologists, and the public. After analyzing the comments and information received on the proposal, the Service decides whether to complete the proposed action or maintain the species status as it is. The Service’s final decision is announced in the Federal Register. The comments received and the responses to them are addressed in the final rule.