Protect The Texas Fawnsfoot And Pimpleback, Even If They're Not Cute

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A couple of months ago we brought you the sad tale of the dwindling jaguarundi, and how an environmental group was suing the U.S. Department of the Interior demanding that the agency create a conservation and survival plan for the endangered cat from South Texas.

Now that same environmental group is trying to save six types of freshwater mollusk that also call Texas their home.

Mollusks, you say? They're not nearly as cute as the jaguarundi. Who gives a hoot about them?

Well, it turns out that mollusks, also known as mussels, improve water quality by removing bacteria and algae, which keeps the rivers nice and healthy. And WilldEarth Guardians, a nonprofit organization, thinks that's pretty damn important. The group is suing the Department of the Interior in Houston federal court to make the agency formally decide whether or not six types of mussels should be on the endangered species list. The types of mollusk are the Southern Hickorynut, Smooth Pimpleback, Texas Pimpleback, False Spike, Mexican Fawnsfoot and Texas Fawnsfoot.

WildEarth Guardians claim that these "are the most threatened and rapidly declining group of freshwater organisms in North America." The group says it has collected data showing that it's been decades since anyone has seen several of the mussel types and that the others are at a fraction of their traditional population and on the verge of extinction. The reasons given include sedimentation, pollution, climate change, international border activities and sand and gravel mining.

In October, WildLife Guardians petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the six mussels as endangered species. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, then had 90 days to make a finding. The three months came and went, according to the lawsuit, and no ruling was made, a violation of the Endangered Species Act

WildLife Guardians are hoping the judge will force Salazar to make a ruling and in effect decide once and for all if these Texas mussels are worth saving.

No, they're not as cute as the jauarundi, but fresh water and a healthy river system is important too, right?

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