Endangered Mussels to Gain Protected Habitat in 18 Eastern, Midwestern States

For Immediate Release, June 4, 2019

Endangered Mussels to Gain Protected Habitat in 18 Eastern, Midwestern States

Contact:Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681, tcurry@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today agreed to designate critical habitat for four endangered freshwater mussels found in 18 states in the East and Midwest, marking a major legal victory for the species and for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The four colorfully named mussels — snuffbox, spectaclecase, sheepnose and rayed bean — range from Wisconsin and New York to Alabama and from Kansas to Virginia.

“Freshwater mussels are America’s most endangered group of animals, so it’s fantastic that these four incredibly important creatures will get habitat protection,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center. “Those safeguards will benefit these mussels along with the health of rivers across 18 states.”

The mussels were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2012, but the Fish and Wildlife Service took no action to designate critical habitat for them until after the Center sued the agency in July 2018.

Under the agreement the agency must propose protected habitat areas for the mussels by Nov. 30, 2024. That protection will require anyone conducting a federally funded or permitted project in the mussels’ habitat to consult with the Service to ensure the area is not damaged. Species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery as species without it.

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