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Feds Could Designate Texas Hornshell Mussel As Endangered

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Federal officials have proposed designating the Texas hornshell as endangered to protect the freshwater mussel.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced the recommendation and sought public input about what it calls a "dramatic decline" in the mussel. The deadline to comment is October 11.

An agency statement says the Texas hornshell, which is also found in New Mexico, is the only native mussel remaining in New Mexico and is scarce in Texas, occupying only 15 percent of its historical U.S. range, that includes the Rio Grande River Basin in Texas and New Mexico.

In the Rio Grande, the Texas hornshell (Popenaias popeii) has been found downstream of Big Bend National Park and near Laredo in Webb County, in the Pecos River near Pandale, and the Devil's River in Val Verde County.

The Texas hornshell, which can grow to more than 4 1/2 inches in length and live up to 20 years, would be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Such a designation, meaning the mussel is in danger of extinction, could lead to restrictions on land and water use.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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