FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2000 Contact: Tom MacKenzie 404/ 679-7291
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that two Alabama snails, the armored snail and the slender campeloma, are at risk of extinction and listed them today as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. A species is designated as endangered when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
The armored snail is found only in Piney and Limestone creeks and has never been seen outside this area. The slender campeloma is believed to survive only in the middle to lower reaches of Round Island, Piney, and Limestone creeks. The historic range of this species has been reduced by at least three-quarters and remaining populations are now separated by the Wheeler Reservoir.
"The survival of these two species is in jeopardy because they are restricted to a few isolated sites along two or three short river reaches in Alabama's Limestone County," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "Agricultural runoff, siltation, and waste discharges have reduced the area's water quality. This poses serious, even irreversible, threats to these species."
Agriculture, primarily cotton growing, occurs in the surrounding area of the Round Island, Limestone, and Piney creek drainages. These creeks, therefore, are highly susceptible to pesticide contamination.
In addition, all three creeks are criss-crossed by a number of roads, railroads, and power lines. Land clearing from timber harvesting also produces increased siltation. Because populations of both species are isolated, their long-term genetic viability is at risk, and the recolonization of an extirpated population is unlikely to occur without human intervention.
The Service will be working with Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, other State and Federal agencies, and private land owners to protect and improve the water quality of Piney, Limestone, and Round Island creeks. In addition, efforts will be made to better understand the biology and habitat of the species and search for improved ways to restore them to their historical habitats.
The Service published its decision to list the two species as endangered in today's Federal Register. The species was proposed for listing on October 28, 1998, followed by a public comment period. The Service received four written comments, only one of which opposed the proposal.
Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
North Georgia Field Office
247 South Milledge Ave.
Athens, GA 30605
Phone: 706/613 9493
Fax: 706/613 6059
Contact: Jennifer Koches (843) 727-4707 Ext.19
Kyla Hastie (706) 613-9493 Ext. 36