WASHINGTON (CN) – Two freshwater muscles, the spectaclecase mussel and sheepnose mussle need to be protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to a proposed listing action from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Both species are threatened by habitat degradation resulting from dams, mining and other alterations to the rivers they call home and have seen declines in populations of up to 70 percent in the case of the sheepnose and 60 percent for the spectaclecase, according to the agency.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the agency last year to list the mussels, along with 402 other aquatic species, under the act, saying that threats facing all of the species could lead to “the worst extinction crisis in North America.”
The mussels were first identified as candidate species for listing under the act in 2004. The candidate list features species the agency knows to be threatened or endangered and in need of protection under the act but whose listing is precluded by higher priority listing actions and budget constraints. There are currently more than 250 species on the candidate species list.