U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Will Not Consider Listing Southern Hickorynut Mussel as an Endangered or Threatened Species
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2010
Connie Light Dickard, FWS’ Southeast Region, 601/321-1121
Tom MacKenzie, FWS’ Southeast Region, 404/679-7291
Tom Buckley, FWS’ Southwest Region, 505-248-6455
The Southern Hickorynut mussel should not be listed as threatened or endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today as it rejected a petition requesting protection for the medium-sized mussel.
The Service made the determination in response to a 2008 petition from WildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to list 13 mussels under the Endangered Species Act. The petition included the Southern Hickorynut which is widely distributed between the Mobile River drainage of Alabama, and the Neches River drainage of Texas northward to southeastern Missouri and southwestern Tennessee. It is found in larger streams and rivers.
WildEarth Guardians petitioned the Service to list the species as either endangered or threatened throughout its historic range, and requested that critical habitat be designated at the same time.
After reviewing the petition, along with its supporting information and other available information, the Service concluded the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate listing the Southern Hickorynut may be warranted at this time. The Federal Register notice announcing the petition finding can be found at http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/2010/2010-6111.html
The petition provided general information on threats to all freshwater mussel species; however, it offered no information on specific threats to known populations of Southern Hickorynut. The petition claimed the species has declined to the point of extirpation at several historic population sites; however, it lacked survey evidence to support this claim.
Although the Service has evidence of the local extirpation of at least two stream populations of the Southern Hickorynut in Alabama due to past activities, there also is evidence of persistence in other multiple tributaries in the Southeast, as well as several existing stream populations that were not recognized by the petition. Information provided by the petitioner and in Service files indicates that the Southern Hickorynut mussel continues to occur throughout most of its historic range.
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. Visit the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov or http://www.fws.gov/southeast.