For Immediate Release, June 14, 2022
Camila Cossío, (832) 933-5404, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delayed Protection Imperils Oregon Beetle, Virgin Islands Plant, Two Southeast Mussels
SALEM, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to determine if the Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle warrants Endangered Species Act protection, and for failing to finalize protection for three other species, a plant called the marrón bacora and the longsolid and Canoe Creek clubshell mussels.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
“Every day protection is delayed, these four incredible species are at a greater risk of extinction,” said Camila Cossío, a staff attorney at the Center. “These species highlight the range of biodiversity at stake in the extinction crisis, from an extraordinary beetle found on the Oregon coast to the Canoe Creek clubshell mussel, vital to the health of Alabama’s Coosa River.”
The Center petitioned the Service to protect the Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle in 2020, but the agency missed a 12-month window to decide whether to do so. The Center petitioned to protect longsolid and Canoe Creek clubshell mussels in 2010. Following Center litigation the Service proposed protection for the mussels in 2020 but failed to issue a final rule within one year as required.
A petition to protect marrón bacora was first submitted in 1996. After multiple rounds of litigation by the Center, the Service finally agreed to protect the plant in 2020 but has yet to provide final protection.
“The Endangered Species Act is tremendously effective at saving species from extinction,” said Cossío. “But it only works if the Service actually grants species protection.”
The Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle: A fierce predator, the beetle was named after Siuslaw Native Americans and the Siuslaw River of the central Oregon Coast. The beetle was once found on coastal beaches from Northern California to southern Washington but has disappeared from most places it was historically found. The tiger beetle is threatened by habitat loss, off-road vehicles, climate change, coastal erosion, trampling by beachgoers, inbreeding, and invasive species.
The longsolid: The longsolid mussel is 5 inches long with a light-brown shell that features darker brown stripes and a pronounced ridge. It lives in the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee River basins in Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It is threatened by water pollution from urbanization, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, pipeline construction, coal mining and coal-fired power plants, and increased stream temperatures and storm events driven by climate change.
The Canoe Creek clubshell: This freshwater mussel lives only in Big Canoe Creek and Little Canoe Creek West, tributaries of the Coosa River in northeast Alabama. It is about 3.5 inches long, with a dark yellow-to-brown outer shell, an iridescent mother-of-pearl white inner shell and a salmon-orange body. The species is threatened by runoff from agriculture and forestry, a planned pump-storage project, water pollution from development, and severe drought exacerbated by climate change. Only 25 mussels were found in recent surveys. All were aging adults, indicating lack of successful reproduction.
Marrón bacora: This flowering shrub can reach 10 feet in height and is found on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Marrón bacora was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the early 1990s. There are only a handful of populations, and low numbers of individuals in each. The plant is threatened by development and climate change. St. John was devastated in 2017 by hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Service found that climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, hurricanes, and severe droughts.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.