10 Endangered or Threatened Species in Athens and Hocking

blog by Jessica Hill

We have seen ads or pictures for endangered animals from the other side of the world. We know rhinos are going extinct and Siberian tigers are dying out. Some people might wonder how it concerns them. We don’t see the extinctions happen with our own eyes, and the animals inhabit land and oceans far from us.

 

However, of the more than 30 species in Ohio that are registered on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened and endangered , 10 species live in Athens and Hocking counties, according to the according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

  1. Indiana bat

The Indiana bat, which lives in every Ohio county, has been on the endangered species list since 1967. They hibernate in caves and mines by small streams and inhabit upland forests. Major tree clearing has led to the decrease of Indiana bats. The commercialization of caves and use of pesticides have also contributed to the large number of deaths.

In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining wrote the Range-wide Indiana Bat Protection and Enhancement Plan Guidelines, an effort to increase the bat population, but the bat remains on the endangered list.

2. Northern long-eared bat

The northern long-eared bat is on the threatened species list and lives statewide as well. Similar to the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat hibernates in caves and mines and lives in wooded areas in the fall and forests in the spring and summer.

3. Fanshell mussel

Found in medium and large rivers, the mussel attaches itself to fish gills. The fanshell mussel lives in Athens County as well as several other counties in Ohio. Mussels may not seem that important. They’re not cute and cuddly and hardly resemble animals, but they are crucial to aquatic environments. Mussels capture organic matter from the water and excrete nutrients for other organisms to consume.

The fanshell mussel is on the endangered list and has become threatened by the building of dams and reservoirs, which have flooded their habitats. Commercial harvesting may also be affecting the species.

4. Pink mucket pearly mussel

Listed on the endangered species list in 1976, the pink mucket pearly mussel buries itself in sand and gravel and also attaches itself to fish. Flooding caused by dams and reservoirs as well as runoff pollution contribute to the decrease in population. The mussel has been discovered in the Ohio river and lives in 11 counties in Ohio, including Athens.

5. Sheepnose mussel

The sheepnose freshwater mussel is found in the Midwest and Southeast, but it has been wiped out from two-thirds of its habitats. Growing to five inches, the mussel lives in shallow areas in large and medium rivers. It was put on the list in 2012.

6. American burying beetle

Listed in 1989, the American burying beetle lives in five counties in Ohio including Athens.

As of March 2016, the status of 29 species are being reviewed again, which includes the American burying beetle. Living in many different habitats, the beetle prefers grasslands and oak hickory forests.

The American burying beetle depends on carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals, to survive. Biologists are still determining why the American burying beetle is dying, however, the lack of small carcasses to bury may be a result of the decreasing population.

7. Snuffbox mussel

Found in Athens, this mussel was recently put on the endangered list in February 2012. It lives in small to medium-sized creeks with strong currents. The population decreased by at least 90 percent in 2015. Dams, pollution, sedimentation and nonnative species have endangered the snuffbox population.

8. Northern monkshood

Found in Hocking County, this plant was listed in 1978 on the threatened species list. The northern monkshood has only been found in four states and lives on shaded cliffs or by streams.

The contamination of sinkholes, misapplication of pesticides and trampling by livestock and human foot traffic has led to the population threat.

 

 

 

9. Running buffalo clover

Listed on the endangered species list in 1987, this plant was quite common in meadows and partially shaded places. I personally used to see these little flowers in fields and thought they smelled like bananas. The decreasing population of bison, which used to trample and create new habitats for the clover, has led to the endangerment of this plant. In addition, the loss of habitat due to agriculture and the invasion of nonnative species has further contributed to the decline.

10. Small whorled pogonia

On the threatened list, the small whorled pogonia lives in dry woodland and mixed forests in Ohio counties such as Hocking. The loss of habitat due to urban expansion and the plant’s collection for commercial use has led to the decline in the population.

 

 

Ten species that are endangered or threatened live in Athens and Hocking counties. The concept of endangered species may seem like a faraway problem, but animals and plants might be struggling to survive in our backyard.