Multiple House Bills weakening the Endangered Species Act in Natural Resource Committee. Read on for more on the importance of freshwater mussels, one of many species affected by current bills: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6668
In North America, we are fortunate to host a third of all freshwater mussel species, AKA unionids, worldwide. However this family of mussels has experienced steep population declines in recent decades. Unfortunately, more than 70% of unionids are listed as extinct, endangered, threatened or of special concern—a much greater proportion when compared to any other aquatic or terrestrial group.
There are many reasons unionids are so imperiled. Although they don’t move around as adults, they are very sensitive to habitat fragmentation and dams. Unionids are dependent on fish movement, because females will lure in fish, then attach larvae to its gills so that their young can drop off and mature elsewhere (called the glochidia stage)! As filter-feeders, they are also very sensitive sedimentation from construction disturbance. Unionids cannot thrive in polluted or acidic waters, and our local species also being misplaced by invasive zebra and quagga mussels. All of these factors have contributed to global population declines, and for good reason, the need to protect unionids under the Endangered Species Act.
Currently the House Committee of Natural Resources (a sub-committee of Congress, under H.R.6668 – MUSSELS Act) is considering a bill to remove all freshwater mussels from the Endangered Species Act and prohibit future regulatory protection for them, despite the best available science. This would eliminate any protections in place for critical and sensitive habitat for endangered mussels in our waterways. Consider calling your representatives about this important issue today.