For Immediate Release, August 17, 2023
Will Harlan, (828) 230-6818, WHarlan@biologicaldiversity.org
North Carolina’s Magnificent Ramshorn Snail Receives Endangered Species Act Protections
WILMINGTON, N.C.— In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued a final rule protecting North Carolina’s magnificent ramshorn snail as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also designated two ponds and 739 acres in the Cape Fear River watershed as critical habitat for the snail.
The magnificent ramshorn is currently extinct in the wild and survives only in captive-reared populations.
“This decision tosses a lifeline to the aptly named magnificent ramshorn which was so close to being lost forever,” said Will Harlan, Southeast director at the Center. “There’s no coming back from extinction. Endangered species protections will give these ancient snails a fighting chance so long as the Fish and Wildlife Service moves quickly to add more habitat.”
The magnificent ramshorn is an herbivorous air-breathing snail with a coiled shell in the shape of a ram’s horn. Endemic to the Cape Fear River watershed of coastal North Carolina, the snails depend on shallow, slow-moving freshwater with an abundance of vegetation.
Habitat loss due to the killing of beavers whose dams create suitable habitat, development and climate-driven hurricanes have wiped out the magnificent ramshorn in the wild. Surveys of more than 100 potential sites over the past several decades have not documented any of the snails.
The Service designated only two private ponds as critical habitat, and both are in a floodplain that is experiencing increased climate change-driven tidal encroachment and saltwater intrusion. The proposed dredging and expansion of the Port of Wilmington will exacerbate these threats and destroy more of the ramshorn’s habitat. Additional reintroduction sites are needed outside of the floodplain to ensure the snail’s survival and recovery.
The magnificent ramshorn was first identified as needing protection in 1984. The Center petitioned the Service to list the magnificent ramshorn in 2010 and sued the agency in 2021.
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.