Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Tags Endangered Freshwater Mussels for Release

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Recently Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and Center for Mollusk Conservation (KDFWR) staff hosted a freshwater mussel tagging event on Lake Cumberland. At approximately 16 months old, these endangered Cumberland combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) mussels had grown exponentially in the boathouse and were large enough to tag and release.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Project Leader, James Gray, places superglue and glitter on the shells of endangered freshwater mussel species Cumberland combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) to tag them before release.

White glitter was applied to each mussel and held in place with superglue. Different colors of glitter signify a particular year class and aid biologists in identifying age when the mussels are relocated in the field. In addition to the Cumberland combshell, CMC malacologists also tagged some endangered Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), Cumberland bean (Venustaconcha troostensis), Tan riffleshell (Epioblasma walker), and Fluted Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus subtentum).

Several endangered Cumberland combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) freshwater mussels awaiting inventory after being tagged at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery.

With the help of several volunteers and selected members from the Kentucky Wild program, the group successfully tagged 8,670 mussels in just a few hours! The Cumberland combshell mussels tagged at the event will soon be stocked back into their original habitat in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Many of these species are among the rarest in the world, with surviving wild individuals only located in a single population of a particular water body. These 8,670 individuals tagged at Wolf Creek NFH will greatly contribute to the recovery of these species.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery employee, Makenzie Foster, applies superglue and white glitter tags to the shells of several endangered Cumberland combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) freshwater mussels.
A handful of endangered Tan Riffleshell (Epioblasma walkeri) freshwater mussels prior to being tagged for release back into native waters.

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Endangered and/or Threatened species