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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release


For Immediate Release: May 17, 2012

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203


Megan Seymour 614-416-8993 ext. 16 


Celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012
Learn about Endangered Freshwater Mussels


rayed bean mussel

Rayed bean mussel found during a river survey.

Photo by USFWS; Angela Boyer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites everyone to celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012, by learning more about endangered species in Ohio, getting outside and experiencing nature, and taking action to protect native plants and animals in your area. 


“Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our successes and strengthen our partnership with the American public to conserve our shared natural resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By taking action to help our threatened and endangered plants and animals, we can ensure a healthy future for our country and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.”


Among Ohio’s most interesting – and imperiled – wildlife species are freshwater mussels, a diverse group of critters that inhabit the streams of Ohio.  Because most mussels need clean water to survive, a large portion of freshwater mussels are now endangered.   Mussels come in all shapes and sizes, and their creative names reflect their appearance.  Federally endangered mussels in Ohio include the clubshell, northern riffleshell, fanshell, pink mucket pearlymussel, purple cat’s paw pearlymussel, white cat’s paw pearlymussel, rayed bean, sheepnose, and snuffbox.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also evaluating whether to list the rabbitsfoot mussel as endangered or threatened.  It is estimated that 70 percent of America’s freshwater mussels are extinct, endangered, or in need of special protection.    


One of the best remaining streams in Ohio for rare and common mussels is Big Darby Creek.  For its size, this river supports the most diverse mussel population in North America, including multiple kinds of endangered mussels.  Northern riffleshells were transplanted in a portion of Battelle Darby Creek Metropark in 2008 and in Prairie Oaks Metropark in 2010 to augment the existing small populations.  This effort was made possible by a strong partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center, Ohio State University, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Franklin County Metroparks, and the Darby Creek Association.  Monitoring since the augmentation has documented survival of the transplanted mussels and some signs of reproduction. 


Why not take a trip to Battelle Darby Creek or Prairie Oaks Metropark to celebrate Endangered Species Day? 

  • Canoe the stream and see how the clear water ripples over rocks and pebbles—mussels’ preferred stream habitat. 
  • Hike through the woods and observe how the forested areas adjacent to Big Darby Creek provide shade to the stream, stabilize the banks naturally, and provide homes to all kinds of interesting critters. 
  • Attend a program to find out even more about Ohio’s most diverse river system!

What can you do at home to protect endangered mussels? 

  • Plant or maintain trees or vegetated buffers along rivers and streams, no matter how small.  These vegetated areas, called “riparian zones,” provide important water purifying functions that benefit all aquatic creatures. 
  • Avoid and minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides in your yard and especially near wet areas.  Eliminating certain plants and animals from your yard can have ripple effects throughout the food chain.  Herbicides and pesticides can be particularly harmful to aquatic animals.
  • Minimize the use of fertilizers and always follow instructions on packaging.  Excess fertilizer can wash into waterways and cause growth of excess algae which can be detrimental to aquatic animals.

Endangered Species Day was established by Congress to promote the importance of protecting endangered species and share actions that people can take to help protect rare plants, animals, and their habitats. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.  More than 1,300 species of plants and animals are currently listed as either threatened or endangered in the United States, and 23 are currently listed in Ohio. 


For photos and more info on endangered mussels: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/index.html


For more info on activities and events at Battelle Darby Creek Metropark:  http://www.metroparks.net/ParksBattelleDarbyCreek.aspx


For a YouTube video of mussel translocation:


For more info on Endangered Species Day:


Note to editors: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbus Ohio Ecological Services Field Office will be celebrating Endangered Species Day by providing a series of articles that highlight some of Ohio’s rarest plants and animals and describe how the public can experience and protect these unique species. 


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.


Connect with our Facebook page at facebook.com/usfwsmidwest, follow our tweets at twitter.com/usfwsmidwest, watch our YouTube Channel at youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest.

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