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.

Tellico Hatchery Announces Winter Hours

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced winter hours for the Tellico Hatchery in Tellico Plains. Holidays along with hours of daylight and alterations in operations are the primary reasons for changes. Fish eat less during colder months. This reason, along with a reduction of seasonal responsibilities such as mowing grass and hatchery upkeep, means fewer people on staff. ... (click for more)

Wildlife Officer Pete Geesling Honored In Veterans Day Observance Ceremony

Brandon “Pete” Geesling, a wildlife officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Warren County, was one of five veteran state employees recognized during a Veterans Day observance event held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza.     Previously, Mr. Geesling served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a combat engineer which included a deployment ... (click for more)

Residents Concerned Over 7-Story Building On The Southside

Downtown Chattanooga residents expressed their concerns with the proposed seven-story apartment building on Cowart Street on the Southside at Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting. The apartment building, originally zoned at four stories before Belle Investment petitioned for seven, has not been adequately publicized, residents claimed.   Architect and planning professional ... (click for more)

Commissioner Graham Chides Chairman Bankston For Shredding Arts Cigarette Tax Letter; Says Sunshine Law Violated

County Commissioner Joe Graham on Wednesday chided Chairman Chester Bankston for shredding a letter related to the proposed cigarette tax to aid the arts. "Have you shredded any other county legal documents?" he demanded. Chairman Bankston replied, "No, I have not done that." He said the letter did not get the necessary six signatures to forward to the Legislature. ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Why I Am Thankful, 2015

I can’t really remember when I first started this – sometime in the 1970s – but my favorite column every year comes during Thanksgiving when I literally pause and use my fingers to thank God for all His richest blessings. The year 2015 has been bountiful so here are just a few of the things I will carry in my heart as I take my place at today’s table: I AM THANKFUL that tomorrow, ... (click for more)