The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the fluted kidneyshell and the slabside pearlymussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
These two mussels are only found in portions of the Cumberland and Tennessee River systems of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.
At the same time, the Service is designating about 1,380 miles of stream channel in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia as critical habitat units for these mussels. Some of the areas overlap and are critical habitat for both species.
For the fluted kidneyshell, the service is designating 24 critical habitat units encompassing 1,181 miles of stream channel in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. For the slabside pearlymussel, theservice is designating 13 critical habitat units encompassing about 970 miles of stream channel in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.
Several factors that could lead to the mussels' extinction were considered. Both only have a handful of populations that are considered biologically viable. Threats to these mussels include impoundments, mining, oil and gas exploration, sedimentation, chemical contaminants, temperature alterations, recurring drought and flooding, population fragmentation and isolation, loss of fish hosts, and competition from the introduced Asian clam.
The ’s final rules listing the fluted kidneyshell and the slabside pearlymussel and designating critical habitat appear in the Sept. 26, 2013, Federal Register. The protection for these mussel species becomes effective 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.
It is illegal under the act to kill, harm or otherwise “take” a listed species, or to possess, import, export or conduct interstate or international commerce without authorization from the Service.
The next step is development of a recovery plan that provides a guidebook to address threats to the species survival and recovery. When completed, the recovery plan will be available on the service’s website, http://www.fws.gov/endangered.