The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to save a local species — the magnificent ramshorn aquatic snail — from extinction.
Regulations from the Endangered Species Act now protect the snail from being taken from its habitat.
Here’s what you should know.
What is it?
The ramshorn snail is an air-breathing, aquatic species of snail.
Where is it found?
The ramshorn snail is found in only four sites in the lower Cape Fear River Basin in Southeastern North Carolina. The Service designated 739 acres in Brunswick County as critical habitat for magnificent ramshorn. Two ponds are within the critical habitat designation: Orton Pond and Big Pond (also known as Pleasant Oaks Pond).
Read more about conservation efforts:Rocky Point’s ‘quirky’ wetland forest with unique plants and wildlife is now protected
Why is it endangered?
According to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 100 potential sites, including most historical locations, have been surveyed over the last few decades, and no “magnificent ramshorn snails have been found in the wild.” The release states “captive populations” have ensured the survival of the species since 1992, but “catastrophes such as severe storms, disease, or predator infestations make them vulnerable to extinction.”
How many exist today?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says three captive populations currently exist with about 1,000 snails, and captive breeding is underway to “release ramshorn snails back into their wild habitats to restore the species.”
What work is underway to restore the snails?
A study by North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is underway to determine the genetic diversity of the captive populations. The North Carolina Division of Water Resources and the Service are working with the city of Wilmington to improve the water quality of Greenfield Lake, which formerly supported the species.
The U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service is currently working on a recovery plan and a implementation strategy for the ramshorn snail. The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the recovery plan.
For more information, visit the magnificent ramshorn species profile and the frequently asked questions from the proposed listing announcement.