I’m Meagan Racey, and I work in our Northeast Region office for communications. Here I’m holding a red knot, an incredible bird for which we proposed Endangered Species Act protection earlier this year. Credit: USFWS
SPOILER ALERT: You will not find adorable photos of plover chicks, lynx kittens or sea turtle hatchlings here. We featured these cuties earlier this week (if you missed it, you should definitely check it out) in a post about endangered species in states across the Northeast.
Don’t you just want to hug…
An oyster mussel?
Flat-spired, three-toothed snail?
Puritan tiger beetle?
Wait…how about a Lee County cave isopod?
We get it. These little creatures just aren’t as cuddly.
But the Endangered Species Act treats them as equals. These crustaceans, bivalves, snakes and other animals play roles in their environment, and today’s the day (in fact, the 40th anniversary of the day the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Nixon) they get some spotlight.
The Chittenango ovate amber snail is only known to exist one place in the world – Chittenango Falls in Chittenango State Park in New York. It requires the cool, moist environment of the waterfalls. The snail’s shell is glossy, off-white to pale or pinkish yellow and is marked with growth wrinkles and lines. The soft body of the snail is a pale, translucent yellow. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and other partners regularly survey the waterfalls for the snail. Credit: USFWS
Can you see the freshwater mussel? Many rare mussel species are found along the Appalachian Mountains. In Virginia alone, more than 20 endangered mussel species can be found. Biologists believe the endangered Appalachian monkeyface, for example, exists only in a small area of the Powell River in Tennessee and Virginia, and the Clinch River in Virginia. While this freshwater mussel has always been rare, most it its habitat has been eliminated by numerous impoundments in the Tennessee River watershed. To help mussels, we’ve focused on reducing water pollution by excluding livestock from streams and creating plant buffers along streams. Mussels like this monkeyface require clean water, and their decline often signals a decline in the water quality of streams and rivers. We work with partners to raise mussels in captivity and release them in the wild, and we also work on improving the quality of the streams upon which they depend. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS
This northern long-eared bat has white-nose syndrome. Populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in 2006. We proposed the species for Endangered Species Act protection earlier this year. White-nose syndrome has spread rapidly throughout the East and is currently spreading through the Midwest. Though the disease has not yet spread throughout the northern long-eared bat’s entire range (white-nose syndrome is currently found in at least 22 of 39 states where the northern long-eared bat occurs), it continues to spread. Experts expect that where it spreads, it will have the same impact as seen in the Northeast. In just seven years, the disease spread from the first documented occurrence in New York in February 2006 to 22 states and five Canadian provinces by September 2013. Credit: University of Illinois/Steve Taylor
Millions of years ago, a tiny marine creature thrived alongside the dinosaurs. After ocean waters receded from its habitat, these blind and colorless crustaceans evolved into freshwater swimmers call isopods. One of those isopods, the threatened Madison Cave isopod, pictured here during a survey at Steger’s Fossure in Virginia, survived millions of years and now resides in only a few underground caves and aquifers in parts of Virginia and West Virginia. But it offers biologists much broader insights. Protecting this diminutive species means protecting a prehistoric organism, as well as safeguarding a clean water supply. Credit: USFWS
The threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle depends on the remaining sandy beaches of the Chesapeake Bay. While it historically lived on sandy beaches from Massachusetts to Virginia, the majority of its remaining home is within the bay. It loves the same pristine beaches that we do, but the population dwindled as shoreline was developed, stabilized and under increasing recreational use. We’re working with communities to develop approaches that encourage shoreline management that maintains or improves habitat for these beautiful little beetles. Credit: USFWS
Thanks for taking some time to learn about these quirky animals on this special day marking the anniversary of a landmark law recognizing their significance in our environment. We’ve got plenty more endearing creepy crawlies in the Northeast that you can check out, too.
Learn more about these critters…