WASHINGTON (CN) – After 28 years on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s candidate species list, the tiny Chupadera springsnail, known only to occur at two locations in Socorro County, N.M., has been added to the list of endangered species.
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The Chupadera may already be extinct as no specimens have been found at one of the two springs where the species is known to occur, since 1997 and the owner of the other spring has blocked access to the site since 1999, according to the USFWS.
The unnamed spring on a hillside at the southeast end of the Chupadera Mountains in Socorro County shows signs of continued degradation from livestock grazing and that it had been excavated to create a drinking pool for cattle, the USFWS notice continues.
The owner of the Willow Spring site, Highland Springs LLC, says that no grazing is currently occurring within or next to the spring.
Losses of habitat and water flow are the reasons the species has been driven to the brink of extinction the USFWS said. Both springs are fed by the same groundwater aquifer that adjacent homeowners in a growing subdivision are required to draw on.
The USFWS designated 1.9 acres of land surrounding the two springs, which are about 600 yards apart, as critical habitat.
Now that the species has been listed as endangered and critical habitat designated, the USFWS can begin the recovery planning process for the species which will still depend on the cooperation of the private landowners of the two springs.
Critical habitat designations do not limit the activity of private landowners unless their actions otherwise require federal approval. However, listing may make funds available for habitat restoration and other incentives to encourage private landowners to participate in species conservation.