Two species of freshwater mussels that live in southwest Missouri will soon be placed under federal protection.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Sept. 17 that the Neosho mucket mussel will be listed as endangered and the rabbitsfoot mussel as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The protection takes effect 30 days after the new rules are published in the Federal Register.
It is illegal to kill, harm harvest or possess a threatened or endangered species.
Bryan Simmons, a biologist with the federal agency, says the next step will be developing a recovery plan for both species.
The Joplin Globe reports federal authorities say the public rarely sees the two species of mussels but they are considered key indicator species of water quality.