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.



8th Annual Maury County Youth Small Game And Predator Hunt Scheduled For Feb. 11

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be one of the sponsors for the eighth annual Maury County Youth Small Game and Predator Hunt to be held Feb. 11. The free event is for youth from ages 9-15 who must have a TWRA Hunter Education certification by the hunt date and have all the appropriate licenses permits. Hunters must also provide their own firearm and ammunition.   ... (click for more)

7th Annual Daniel Greer Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt Set For Feb. 11 In Cheatham County

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is among the partners to host the Seventh Annual Daniel Greer Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt. The event will be held Saturday, Feb. 11 at Cheatham Lake Wildlife Management Area. The event is held in honor of U.S. Marine Corporal Daniel Greer who lost his life in August 2010 while serving in southern Afghanistan. He was an Ashland City firefighter ... (click for more)

Alabama Man Faces Murder Charge In Shooting Death At Bradley County Landfill

An investigation by  s pecial agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of an Alabama man in a shooting death that occurred last fall at the Bradley County landfill.   At the request of 10 th  District Attorney General Steve Crump, last Sept. 8 TBI special agents began investigating a shooting death that occurred that ... (click for more)

Man Shot In East Lake Winds Up Facing Several Criminal Charges

Police said a man who was shot on Sunday morning in East Lake was assaulting the woman who shot him and others immediately before the gunfire.   Police said 29-year-old Latesha Hinton would not be charged in the shooting of Dieshunn Lindsey, 30. At approximately  10:50 a.m.,  officers with the Chattanooga Police Department responded to the 2700 block of ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Washington’s Favorite

By the time darkness fell over Washington, D.C., on Sunday, it had clearly been a monumental weekend. On Friday Donald Trump had ben inaugurated as the 45 th President of the United States. On Saturday a fierce crowd of a half-million women who each are entitled to have the identical rights as men in the same United States, marched on The Mall. And then, the Washington Post printed ... (click for more)