Another freshwater mussel could get federal protection

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing protection for another species of freshwater mussel under the Endangered Species Act.

The service’s decision on Wednesday reflects the threat of pollution and climate change on freshwater mussels overall.

Atlantic pigtoe mussels are sometimes yellowish in color and shaped somewhat like a pig’s toe. They’re native to rivers in southeastern U.S. states ranging from Virginia to Georgia. But the species appears to have dwindled to seven populations in North Carolina and Virginia.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife said the Atlantic pigtoe could be at risk of extinction in 50 years.

The mussels need to live in clean and flowing waterways, but runoff has polluted rivers where they live. Climate change also has worsened the droughts and storms that can disrupt their habitats.

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