By Ronnie Weston| May 16, 2013 at 2:53 PM CDT - Updated June 15 at 1:43 PM
PARIS (AGFC) – In the highest parts of Arkansas's Ozarks, the slow-moving Magazine Mountain shagreen snail won the race to become the first invertebrate to be delisted under the Endangered Species Act.
"This week we are excited to announce that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delisting the Magazine Mountain shagreen," said Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director. "The recovery of this species was made possible through collaborative efforts of our partners at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Forest Service and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to remove threats and protect the habitat of the Magazine Mountain shagreen. The delisting of this snail is another Endangered Species Act success story."
When the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973, the landmark legislation allowed for the protection of wildlife, both vertebrates and invertebrates (including snails, mussels, crustaceans, etc.), and plants. In the south, the USFWS is working to recover more than 340 federally listed species – more than 100 of these are invertebrates. Nationally, the USFWS is working to recover about 600 listed animals. More than a third of them are invertebrates.
A tiny, dusky brown or buff colored terrestrial snail, the Magazine Mountain shagreen is only found on Magazine Mountain in Logan County. It inhabits the mountain's north and west slopes above 2,200 feet. The Forest Service owns Magazine Mountain and has designated portions of the mountain as a Special Interest Area to protect the snail and its habitat. The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has a long-term special use permit from the Forest Service to operate a state park on the summit. The Forest Service also conducts annual surveys of the Magazine Mountain shagreen's population and worked cooperatively with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the USFWS to fund life history and ecology research. These studies increased the USFWS' knowledge of the species' life history and more accurately mapped its habitat with new technologies.
The Magazine Mountain shagreen was listed as threatened in 1989. Annual monitoring conducted by researchers indicates that Magazine Mountain shagreen populations have remained stable since 1996. Additionally, a review of the Magazine Mountain shagreen's status shows adequate regulatory protection exists, and threats have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the species has recovered and no longer meets the definition of threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The Magazine Mountain shagreen prefers cool, moist conditions and lives within the talus (a sloping mass of rock fragments at the foot of a cliff) slopes of Magazine Mountain. It is not known how many talus slopes or acres this species inhabited at the time of listing. Based on evaluation of recent data, the Magazine Mountain shagreen currently lives on 27 talus slopes on Magazine Mountain, cumulatively comprising about 22 acres. These populations are now considered secure from threats as Magazine Mountain is entirely owned and protected by the Forest Service and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Since the Magazine Mountain shagreen is being removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, Federal agencies will no longer need to consult with the Service to ensure any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of this species. The Service will continue to work with the Forest Service, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to implement a post-delisting monitoring plan for at least five years following delisting.
Copies of the final rule and post-delisting monitoring plan are available on the Internet at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, or by contacting Chris Davidson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 110 South Amity Road, Suite 300, Conway, AR 72032 (phone: 501-513-4481; fax: 501-513-4480).