For Immediate Release, August 1, 2011
Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681
Rare New Mexico Springsnail Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
SANTA FE, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect the Chupadera springsnail as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and to protect 1.9 acres of critical habitat essential for the conservation of the species. The springsnail is found at two springs in the Chupadera Mountains in Socorro County, N.M., and nowhere else on Earth.
“The Chupadera springsnail qualified for Endangered Species Act protection more than two decades ago, so we’re glad to see this unique New Mexico species finally getting the protection it needs to survive,” said Tierra Curry, conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center first took legal action to protect the Chupadera springsnail in 1999 and this July reached a landmark legal agreement with the Service to expedite protection for the springsnail and 756 other imperiled species.
The Chupadera springsnail was petitioned for federal Endangered Species Act protection in 1985 by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish; it was placed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s candidate list in 1988. Candidates are species that qualify for Endangered Species Act protection but instead are placed on a waiting list.
The Chupadera springsnail is threatened by livestock grazing, which the Service reports has damaged approximately 80 percent of all stream habitats in the western United States. Livestock decrease stream water quality by trampling vegetation and polluting the water with manure. The snail is also threatened by groundwater depletion from water pumping to support the Highland Springs Ranch subdivision and by increased drought severity caused by global climate change.
The Chupadera springsnail is one-tenth of an inch long and lives for only one year. Springsnails improve water quality by scraping algae and bacteria from rocks to feed; they are also an important indicator of high water quality.