FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 17, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright



SIX FRESHWATER SNAILS ARE PROPOSED

FOR PROTECTED STATUS BY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add six Alabama freshwater snails to the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. The cylindrical lioplax, flat pebblesnail and plicate rocksnail are proposed for endangered status and the painted rocksnail, round rocksnail and lacy elimia are proposed for threatened status.

Freshwater snails are considered strong indicators of stable, high-quality aquatic habitat. Their presence reflects the quality of a watershed and as such has implications for humans and a wide variety of wildlife.

The six Alabama freshwater snails have disappeared from 90 percent or more of their historic ranges. Dams on the Tombigbee, Black Warrior, Alabama and Coosa rivers slowed water currents allowing sand and silt to settle over rock and gravel river beds where the snails once lived. Today, none of the six snails proposed for listing survive in those rivers. Water pollution is believed to have caused the snails' disappearance in some rivers and streams that had remained free-flowing.

Remaining populations of the six snail species are primarily threatened by sediment and other pollutants entering their stream habitats in storm water runoff and Service biologists are working with the Mobile River Basin Aquatic Ecosystem Coalition, a wide cross-section of Alabama business, civic and environmental interests, to find ways to reduce those threats.

The cylindrical lioplax, flat pebblesnail and round rocksnail can still be found in small portions of the Cahaba River drainage in Bibb and Shelby counties. The lacy elimia and painted rocksnails currently live in a few streams flowing into the Coosa River in Talladega, Chilton and Calhoun counties, while the plicate rocksnail can be found only in a small portion of the Locust Fork River in Jefferson County.

The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as one in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, while a threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

The Act further requires the Service to decide within a year of the publication of the proposed listing whether to finalize regulatory protection for the six snails or to withdraw the proposal. During this period, the Service, if requested, may hold at least one public hearing on the proposed rule.

The Service is seeking comment, suggestions and any additional information on the biology, threats, distribution, population size or current or planned activities and their possible impacts on these species. Comments and other information submitted by December 16, 1997, will be considered before the Service reaches a final decision. A copy of the snail proposal may be obtained by contacting the Service's field office in Jackson, Mississippi, at 601-965-4900.

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Release #: R97-93


1997 News Releases

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