Endangered Mussel Is Reintroduced To Tennessee

Monday, September 9, 2013

An endangered mussel came home to a Tennessee river last week, a monumental reintroduction effort seven years in the making.

On Wednesday, federal and state biologists placed 103 winged mapleleaf mussels in the middle portion of the Duck River.  The last time the species was seen in the river was more than two decades ago, when empty shells were collected in 1990 and 1991.

The freshwater mussel’s historical range, dating from the 1800s, is the Mississippi River and its tributaries from Minnesota to Arkansas. By the time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the winged mapleleaf as endangered in 1991, its only known population was in the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Since then, four additional populations were found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. 

Partners in the reintroduction effort with the Service are the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Missouri State University, and the Kansas City Zoo.

Service biologist Chris Davidson, the Southeast Regional lead for the winged mapleleaf mussel, said reintroducing the species to rivers within its historical range (such as the Duck River) is one of the recovery goals for the species.

“It took seven years to identify suitable fish hosts in the southern portion of the species’ range,” said Mr. Davidson.  “Then we had to work out some kinks with propagation and ‘grow out’ techniques.”

One effort was an attempt to “grow out” the juvenile mussels in the Saline River (southern Arkansas), rather than a hatchery or zoo facility.

The young mussels – all about two and a half years old – have traveled more than some people.  They were produced from fertilized females found in Arkansas’ Saline River, which were then brought to Missouri State University.  At the university’s mussel propagation center, the female mussels expelled their larvae onto a channel catfish.  The larvae have a parasitic stage where they must attach to catfish gills until they mature into tiny, juvenile mussels and drop off the host fish.  Channel catfish and blue catfish are the only suitable fish hosts for winged mapleleaf.

The juvenile mussels remained at the university for about six months.  They then were transferred to the Kansas City Zoo where they continued growing for another two years.  

Mr. Davidson said the probability of survival is good because the mussels are more than two years old.

Future winged mapleleaf mussels for reintroduction in the Duck River will be grown at the Service’s Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery in Louisiana.

The Duck River was selected in part because it’s close to the Saline and Ouachita rivers in Arkansas, where two of the five populations of winged mapleleaf are found.  The Duck River has high mussel density and diversity, plenty of channel and blue catfish, and no invasive zebra mussels, which have out-competed native species in other rivers.

One more good reason to pick the Duck River: Tennessee has long-term monitoring sites there, and will be able to track the mussels’ progress.  Biologists tagged, or laser engraved, unique numbers to these mussels, which will help identify the mussels when they are later recaptured in the monitoring effort.

For more information about the winged mapleleaf mussel species, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/winge_fc.html.



Turkey Hunters Reminded Of Harvest Check-In Procedures

With spring turkey hunting season quickly approaching, sportsmen are reminded of the various methods to check in their birds. All harvested turkeys must be checked in by the end of the calendar day. Turkeys can be checked in on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website or on the “TWRA On the Go” smartphone app or at a check station. For sportsmen who do not have ... (click for more)

Free Outdoors GA App Is Updated For Hunters

Almost one year since its debut, the free Outdoors GA app receives a new update allowing hunters to check their harvest without needing cell service, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “We continue to be pleased with this free mobile app that gives both novice and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts’ essential information in the palm ... (click for more)

2 Shot On Rawlings Street Friday Night; 1 In Critical Condition

Two people were shot, Friday night, and one is in critical condition. At approximately  9:56 p.m.  Chattanooga Police officers responded to the 2000 block of Rawlings Street on a report of a person shot. Officers arrived on scene and located one victim lying next to a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. A second victim arrived at a local hospital suffering from ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Moving Forward With New $2 Million Fire Station; School Panel To Delve Into Finances; Work Starts On MACC Repair

The Signal Mountain Town Council is in the process of making decisions about a new fire hall to accommodate growth that has taken place in the town since the original fire hall was built. When Signal Mountain is fully built-out, said Vice Mayor Dick Gee, another 700 houses will be added therefore the new building has been designed taking the town’s future needs into consideration. ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Geno: Our ‘Me’ Culture

By almost every measure, Geno Auriemma is the best basketball coach in America. His University of Connecticut women are riding a record 109-game winning streak that dates to Nov. 17, 2016. Stanford barely beat them in overtime 3 years ago, but, before that, they won 41 straight. That means UConn is 153-1 and, in the current 109 streak, they have double-figure wins over the opponents ... (click for more)