The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the rayed bean and the snuffbox, two freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern United States.

The rayed bean (pictured, right) is found in rivers in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as Ontario, Canada. It has disappeared from 75 percent of the streams in which it was historically found.

The snuffbox (pictured, left) is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada. This species has disappeared from 65 percent of its historical range.

Threats to both species have been attributed to loss and degradation of stream and river habitat due to impoundments, channelization, chemical contaminants, mining and sedimentation. Freshwater mussels require clean water, and their decline often signals a decline in the water quality of the streams and rivers they inhabit.

The proposal was published on Nov. 2 in the Federal Register. If the two mussels are listed under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work with partners to conserve their habitats. For more information, visit