Monday, July 9, 2012

Partnering to save endangered animals: West Virginia

We're so excited about the new interactive map highlighting endangered species efforts in each state across the nation. Each day we'll feature a state, partner and animal. Subscribe on the right to keep up!

The Appalachian Mountains rise thousands of feet along an ancient line dropping south from Canada to Alabama. Over centuries, unique environments developed along this line and gave birth to an rich variety of wildlife, including an amazing number of freshwater mussels. 

West Virginia, the only state completely enclosed in the Appalachian range, takes pride in the huge chunk of mussels that call its rivers and streams home. In many unpolluted streams, an experienced visitor can spot from 20 to 30 different kinds of freshwater mussels.

One you're unlikely to stumble across is the northern riffleshell, which exists in small pockets in less than five percent of its former range. West Virginia's national fish hatchery is hard at work with several partners to make sure this mussel doesn't blink out. Read more.

The northern riffleshell is an endangered freshwater mussel that was historically found from Ontario to Kentucky and Alabama. Credit: Angela Boyer/USFWS

Here are some other stories featured on West Virginia’s page:
  • Virginia big-eared bat: West Virginia has more Virginia big-eared bats than any other state (about half the global population) including the largest known maternity colony and the largest hibernating concentration in the world.
  • Shale barren rock cress: This plant is highly habitat restricted and the number of individuals per population is low, most with fewer than 20 individuals.
  • Indiana bat: This bat was listed in 1967 when large numbers of bats died following human disturbance of hibernating bats in caves. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves.

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