A humble snail took a lesson from the tortoise that outran the hare. The Magazine Mountain shagreen snail won the race to become the first invertebrate in United States history to escape the Endangered Species List.
The tiny, brown snail (Inflectarius magazinensis) beat out endangered invertebrates that were far fleeter for foot (or wing), such as the Hine's emerald dragonfly and several species of tiger beetles, in the marathon of survival. The Magazine Mountain shagreen snail won with slow and steady, not to mention slimy, progress and some help from a human support team.
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"The recovery of this species was made possible through collaborative efforts of our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to remove threats and protect the habitat of the Magazine Mountain shagreen," said Cindy Dohner, southeast regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in a press release. "The delisting of this snail is another Endangered Species Act success story."
The successful shagreen landed on the endangered list in 1989. By 1996 its population numbers had stabilized. Now, threats to the snail and its habitat in the Ozark Mountains of Logan County, Ark., have been reduced enough to allow officials to declare the snail out of serious danger of extinction.
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One big reason the snail glided off the endangered list is that the U.S. Forest Service and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism now own and protect the entire Magazine Mountain that the snail calls home. The shagreen hides out in cool shade of the rocky rubble, or talus, as the base of the mountain.
Forty other species of snail remain in the race off of the list of endangered or threatened species in the United States, according to USFWS species reports.
IMAGE: A Magazine Mountain shagreen snail (Trey Reid, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission)