Unique North Carolina snail in danger of extinction, wildlife officials say

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(WGHP) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list a snail found in North Carolina as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, according to a USFWS press release .

The magnificent ramshorn snail is an air-breathing snail, historically documented at only four sites in the lower Cape Fear River basin in southeastern North Carolina.

Experts have surveyed over 100 potential sites, including most historic sites, over the past few decades and found no magnificent ramshorn snails.

The species is currently thought to have disappeared from the wild. Efforts are currently underway to maintain the species in captivity and prepare the snails for future releases into the wild.

“The science the Service has gathered on the magnificent ramshorn indicates that it is in danger of extinction throughout its range,” said Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda-Castro. “This narrow endemic needs our help. Working with national fish and wildlife agencies and our partners will help advance conservation efforts and the eventual recovery of the species.

The Service is also proposing to designate 739 acres of ponds as critical habitat for the magnificent ramshorn in Brunswick County, where the snails could be released to repopulate their historic habitat.

The USFWS has determined that it is necessary to propose critical habitat for the magnificent ramshorn because there are no occupied areas to ensure the conservation of the species.

USFWS officials also announced a project to analyze the economics of the proposed critical habitat designation for snails.

The total incremental costs of identifying critical habitat are estimated to be less than $21,000 per year.

Only three captive populations exist with around 1,000 magnificent ramshorns remaining.

Although captive populations have been maintained since 1992, a catastrophic event, such as a severe storm, disease, or predator infestation affecting captive populations, could lead to near extinction of the species.

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