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Enviros Fight for Frigid Ambersnail

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Wildearth Guardians want the Frigid Ambersnail protected as an endangered species. They the tiny mollusk, only 7 mm long, with a dark-gray to black body and a yellow-green shell lives in ice caves in the Midwest. It is nearly extinct, the environmentalists say.

"Some scientists regard the Frigid Ambersnail as one of the most endangered land snails in the United States," the New Mexico-based environmental group says in its federal complaint.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the Frigid Ambersnail survives in some Midwestern ice caves, but a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service petition to study the snail says it may already be extinct in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, according to the complaint.

WildEarth Guardians it petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the snail in July 2007. The group says the agency "has failed to comply with [its] mandatory duty to determine within one year" of receiving the petition whether the animal belongs on the endangered species list.

The group says its members "frequently use and enjoy the Frigid Ambersnail and its current or potential habitat for wildlife viewing, recreational, aesthetic, and scientific activities."

The group sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for violating the Endangered Species Act; it wants an injunction forcing the Secretary to make a determination on the snail within 30 days.

The group is represented by Todd Coberly of Santa Fe, N.M.

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