For Immediate Release, June 29, 2009
Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
After Years of Delay, Three Southeastern Mollusks Proposed for Protection Under Endangered Species Act
Hundreds of Other Candidate Species Continue to Languish Without Protection
JACKSON, Miss.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed the Georgia pigtoe mussel, interrupted rocksnail, and rough hornsnail for protection as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The two snails were first identified as candidates for protection in 1991, and the Georgia pigtoe was identified as a candidate in 1999. At least 17 other southeastern mollusks, as well as more than 200 other species, continue to languish as candidates for listing, which provides them with no protection under the law.
“We are glad these three species are finally receiving the protection they need to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to move more quickly to protect hundreds of other candidate species, including many that are facing the same threats as these three.”
All three of the species proposed for listing today are native to the Coosa River Drainage of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee and are threatened by a combination of habitat destruction, caused primarily by dams, and pollution from agriculture and industry. In addition to proposing listing for the species, Fish and Wildlife also proposed designation of critical habitat for 160 miles of river in various areas of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
“The Southeast is a hotspot for freshwater species diversity,” said Greenwald. “Sadly, a majority of the fish, clams, crayfish, and other species that make up this diversity are quickly headed for extinction.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has litigation pending over Fish and Wildlife’s continued delay of protection for candidate species, arguing that the agency has not been making sufficient progress addressing the backlog of species awaiting protection under the Endangered Species Act.