USA: hot spring snails threatened

Bruneau hot spring snailFrom KeralaNext in India:

Endangered Idaho snail losing habitat

BRUNEAU, Idaho — After clambering down a canyon wall, ducking poison ivy vines and wading chest-deep across a lukewarm stream, Cary Myler spied some flecks that look like pepper sprinkled on a wet rock and announced, “Found some.”

The pinhead-sized dots are Bruneau hot springsnails.

The tiny mollusks that thrive in water as warm as 100 degrees are found nowhere else in the world but here, in the bottom of this southwestern Idaho desert canyon riddled with hot springs 70 miles southeast of Boise.

A decade ago, the snails were at the center of a national battle over federal laws designed to protect endangered species. Today, years after the lawsuits were decided and most of the rhetoric retired, they are closer to extinction than ever before.

The level of the underground geothermal aquifer that feeds the seeps and springs of hot water where the snails live keeps dropping. Rock faces are now dry and bare of the films of the hot water that harbored thousands of the tiny algae-eating snails a few years ago.

Some blame the decline in the aquifer on drought.

Others, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, suspect the primary cause is pumping of the hot water to irrigate surrounding farmland.

New Zealand giant snails: here.

1 thought on “USA: hot spring snails threatened

  1. Pingback: Worst ever ice age and first animals, 715 million years ago | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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