U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to protect southeastern N.C. species, efforts aimed at Brunswick, New Hanover counties

On Aug. 17, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the magnific ramshorn snail as...
On Aug. 17, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the magnific ramshorn snail as an endangered species.(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 3:19 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - On Aug. 17, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the magnific ramshorn snail as an endangered species. Historically, the snail has only been documented within four sites located in the lower Cape Fear River Basin. Per the announcement, recent observations have failed to locate any magnificent ramshorn snails at these sites.

Believed to exist only in captivity, FWS seeks to improve and prepare local land to help reintroduce the species to the wild. Per the announcement, 1,000 of the snails currently live in various captive populations.

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

A historical habitat, FWS has proposed to designate 739 acres of Brunswick County ponds as critical habitat for the magnificent ramshorn, per release. Orton Pond and Big Pond (Pleasant Oaks Pond) fall within this designated area.

In their release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that the total incremental costs of critical habitat designation are estimated to be less than $21,000 annually.

In addition to the land in Brunswick County, FWS and the NC Division of Water Resources are working to improve the water quality of Greenfield Lake in Wilmington, per report. The area formerly supported the magnificent ramshorn snail.

“This protection is great news not just for the magnificent ramshorn but also for the entire Cape Fear River and the many fish, turtles, mammals and birds that share this snail’s habitat,” said Andy Wood, director of the Coastal Plain Conservation Group and one who has focused on the ramshorn snail for years. “The magnificent ramshorn epitomizes the term ‘biodiversity.’ It is the flagship species of a unique bioregion that is special and worthy of protection.”

Supporting the proposed conservation efforts is $250,000 from a legal settlement between the N.C. Department of Transportation and plaintiffs for the Complete 540 transportation project, per the announcement.

Those wishing to comment on the proposed rule are encouraged to visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal and enter “Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2022–0070″ in the search bar. FWS stated that all comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 17.

For more information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.

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