CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — One of West Virginia’s native species has been officially declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alongside 20 other plants and animals, finalizing a proposal initially made in 2021, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).
The tubercled-blossom pearly mussel (Epioblasma torulosa torulosa) was a freshwater mussel that could be found in West Virginia and several surrounding states.
Freshwater mussels play an important part in the health of their home waters, according to the CBD website. They act as living water filters, keeping the area where they live clean for other wildlife. Unfortunately, that also leaves them prone to water contaminants, which has resulted in them being one of the most at risk organisms in the United States.
But, the tubercled-blossom pearly mussel was not the only species on the CBD’s list.
The newly declared extinctions include:
- Alabama: Bachman’s warbler, southern acornshell, stirrupshell, tubercled-blossom pearly mussel, turgid-blossom pearly mussel, upland combshell, yellow-blossom pearly mussel
- Arkansas: turgid blossom pearly mussel
- Florida: Bachman’s warbler
- Georgia: Bachman’s warbler, southern acornshell, upland combshell
- Guam: bridled white-eye, little Mariana fruit bat
- Illinois: tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
- Hawaiʻi: Kauaʻi ʻakialoa, Kauaʻi nukupuʻu, Kauaʻi ʻōʻō, Kāmaʻo, Maui ākepa, Maui nukupuʻu, Kākāwahie, Poʻouli, Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis
- Indiana: tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
- Kentucky: ivory-billed woodpecker, tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
- Mississippi: flat pigtoe
- North Carolina: Bachman’s warbler
- Ohio: Scioto madtom
- South Carolina: Bachman’s warbler
- Tennessee: Bachman’s warbler, green-blossom pearly mussel, southern acornshell, tubercled-blossom pearly mussel, turgid-blossom pearly mussel, upland combshell, yellow-blossom pearly mussel
- Texas: San Marcos gambusia
- Virginia: green-blossom pearly mussel
- West Virginia: tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
“My heart breaks over the loss of these 21 species,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the CBD, said. “These plants and animals can never be brought back. We absolutely must do everything we can to avert the loss of even more threads in our web of life.”
The CBD wrote regarding the initial proposal to declare the listed species as extinct, “several of the species in today’s (September 29, 2021) announcement went extinct during a delay in the listing process, including the Guam bridled white-eye and the flat pigtoe, southern acornshell, stirrupshell and upland combshell mussels. In total, at least 47 species have gone extinct waiting for protection.”
Species wait a median of 12 years to receive safeguards one 2016 study found.
“Few people realize the extent to which the crises of extinction and climate change are deeply intertwined,” Greenwald said. “Both threaten to undo our very way of life, leaving our children with a considerably poorer planet. One silver lining to this sad situation is that protecting and restoring forests, grasslands and other natural habitats will help address both.”
The listed species join 650 other U.S. species that have been declared extinct.