U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Lists Neosho Mucket As Endangered And Rabbitsfoot As Threatened

Monday, September 16, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the Neosho mucket as endangered and the Rabbitsfoot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Both species are freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States. 

The Neosho mucket has been eliminated from about 62 percent of its historic range with only nine of 16 historic populations remaining.  Only one of these populations is known to be reproducing.  The Neosho mucket is currently found in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

The Rabbitsfoot has disappeared from about 64 percent of its historic range.  While 51 of the 140 historic populations remain, only 11 populations (22 percent of its existing populations or eight percent of the historic populations) are viable; 23 populations (45 percent of the existing populations) are at risk of elimination; and 17 populations (33 percent of the current populations) show limited reproduction with little evidence of sustainability.   The Rabbitsfoot is currently found in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  The Rabbitsfoot is no longer found in Georgia and West Virginia.

In listing the two mussels, the Service evaluated factors that could lead to their extinction.  Threats to these mussels include loss and degradation of stream and river habitat due to impoundments, channelization, chemical contaminants, mining and sedimentation.  Freshwater mussels require clean water; their decline often signals a decline in the water quality of the streams and rivers they inhabit.

The Service’s final rule listing the Neosho mucket and the Rabbitsfoot appears in the September 17, 2013, Federal Register.  The protection for these mussel species under the ESA becomes effective 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.  The ultimate goal of the ESA is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the ESA.  The next step is development of a recovery plan that provides a guidebook for the Service and its conservation partners to address threats to the species survival and recovery.  When completed, the recovery plan will be available on the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/endangered.

It is illegal under the ESA to kill, harm or otherwise “take” a listed species, or to possess, import, export or conduct interstate or international commerce without authorization from the Service.  The ESA also requires all federal agencies to ensure actions they authorize, fund, or undertake do not jeopardize the existence of listed species. 

On Oct. 16, 2012, and May 9, 2013, the Service opened public comment periods on its proposal to list these mussels under the ESA. 12 comments were received on the proposed rule.  The Service did not receive any requests for a public hearing during either comment period.  However, it held public information meetings in Joplin, Mo., on May 21, and Greenville, Mo., on May 23.

For more information regarding the listing of these two freshwater mussels, please contact Chris Davidson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office, 110 South Amity Road Suite 300, Conway, Ar. 72302; telephone 501 513-4481; facsimile 501 513-4480.  Also, please visit http://www.fws.gov/arkansas-es/ or Docket #FWS-R4-ES-2012-0031 on http://www.regulations.gov/

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/southeast.  Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws, and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.


Gear Closet Extends Hours; Supports Clean Water Initiatives, Locally And Globally

The Gear Closet, in North Chattanooga, is extending its hours. It will be open six days a week, from Tuesday through Sunday from 12-6 p.m. each day. Earth Day gear drive can encourage the public to do some spring cleaning and donate or consign your old gear and clothing. There will also be a drop off available at Recycle Signal on Signal Mountain as part of the Recycle Challenge ... (click for more)

Kentucky Lake Wounded Soldier Open Bass Tournament Scheduled For May 17

Registration is underway for the Fifth Annual Wounded Soldier Open Bass Tournament to be held at Paris Landing on Kentucky Lake, Saturday, May 17. The tournament format will be a three-fish limit with a guaranteed first prize of $2,000. The cost of the tournament is $110 per boat (two anglers maximum). Entrants who register by the end of the day on May 1 will receive a free ... (click for more)

Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Tragic Bus Accident

Sergeant Tommy Sturdivan announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that the investigation into the death of six-year-old Zackery Bryant at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been officially declared complete and that there will be no criminal charges. Zackery died tragically on Monday morning after being hit by a school bus after stepping off. According to Sgt. Sturdivan, ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy May Begin Effort To Allow Wine In Grocery Stores; Concussion Forms Required For Sporting Events; WWTA Chided For Causing Potholes

The Soddy Daisy Commission is considering taking steps to allow wine in grocery stores now that Tennessee lawmakers have voted to lift restrictions. To have the law appear on the next ballot for a vote, Mayor Janice Cagle said a petition with an amount of signatures totaling 10 percent of the number of voters in the last general election will have to be collected. Commissioner ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Nudge By Angel Kilbride

Way above us, high in the heavens, a handsome angel everybody calls Ben yelled to Saint Peter on Thursday and told him, “Better send me a couple of rubies and maybe an amethyst … Dad’s crown just got bigger.” To you such a scenario may sound silly and foolish but Bill Kilbride, a dynamic genius who has just been named as president-elect of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, knows ... (click for more)