The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of the draft recovery plan for the rabbitsfoot mussel. This plan includes specific criteria for determining when the rabbitsfoot should be considered for delisting, removing it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. It also lists site-specific actions that will be necessary to meet those criteria and estimates the time and costs required for implementing actions necessary to achieve recovery.
The rabbitsfoot is a freshwater mussel federally listed as threatened in October 2013. Historically, the species occurred within at least 434 watersheds located throughout the lower Great Lakes and Mississippi river sub-basins and Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, White, Arkansas, and Red river systems in 15 states. Faced with growing habitat loss and modifications, the species has seen a reduction of between 63% and 70% of its historical range and is presumed extirpated from 288 of those watersheds. Recovery actions for the species will focus on protection and management of current populations, reducing threats to the subspecies, and improving the understanding of the needs of the subspecies through research and monitoring within watersheds located across its range. Captive propagation and reintroductions of the subspecies into suitable habitat areas will also be implemented.
In order to promote and support the conservation and survival of endangered and threatened species, and provide a transparent path to achieving recovery, we and our partners develop and implement recovery plans. Recovery plans are unique to each species and serve as central organizing tools that provide important guidance on methods of minimizing threats to listed species, such as restoring and acquiring habitat, removing introduced predators or, conducting surveys, monitoring individual populations, and breeding species in captivity and releasing them into their historical range. Recovery plans identify measurable and objective criteria against which progress toward recovery of a species can be tracked over time. Recovery plans are guidance and not regulatory documents, and no agency or entity is required by the Endangered Species Act to implement actions in a recovery plan.
The Service is seeking review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public. Specifically, we are seeking submission of any information that enhances the necessary understanding of the (1) subspecies’ biology and threats and (2) recovery needs and related implementation issues or concerns, to ensure that we have assembled, considered, and incorporated the best available scientific and commercial information into the draft recovery plan for this species.
The draft recovery plan will be made available at: https://www.fws.gov/program/recovery/recovery-plans and Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. To obtain a copy by mail, send a request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office, 110 South Amity Road, Suite 300, Conway, AR 72032–8975 or by phone: 501–513–4473.
To ensure consideration, the Service must receive written comments on or before November 14, 2022. However, we will accept information about any species at any time. Submit comments in writing to Melvin Tobin, Field Supervisor at email@example.com or by mail to the Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office.
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