Scientists seek snail protection

Associated Press
The story ran in over two dozen papers including the Seattle Post Intelligencer, LA Times and the Miami Herald.

Scientists are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place two Oregon snails and one Wyoming snail onto the endangered species list.

One of the Oregon snails is the Harney Lake springsnail, found only in Eastern Oregon, and the other is the Columbia springnail, found only in the lower Columbia River. The Wyoming snail is the Jackson Lake springsnail, found only in Jackson Lake, Wyo.

Scientists say all three of the snails are candidates for extinction, and are genetically similar, perhaps even identical, to a fourth snail species, the Idaho springsnail, found only in the Snake River of southern Idaho. The Idaho springsnail is already listed as an endangered species.

And they say all of the snails are “indicator species” that can send important signals to scientists about the condition of their habitat, based on their own health or lack thereof.

The petitioners include the Wyoming-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project and the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity.

A spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service has said that limited funding means that the agency has to set priorities when deciding which species to put onto the endangered list.