Meet the Five Almost-Endangered Species of 2009

Rabbitsfoot mussel

This is a list you don't want to be on. Unless, maybe, you're hoping for some government help.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is out with its annual list of proposed candidate species, or "candidate notice of review." That is, plants and animals that the agency says may be designated as endangered unless conservation measures are taken to protect them.There are several things that can be done to help these plants and animals, in hopes that they don't make it the official endangered list some day. That includes a grant-funded program that supports conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories.

Of course, there's only so much money to go around. There are already 249 species listed as candidates for protection.

So which ones of these pre-candidates should we save, or try to save? Maybe the situation is not that cut and dry, but here are the five contenders for candidate status, which face "immediate, identifiable threats," according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The Rabbitsfoot mussel, (also pictured above)
which sounds lucky, but is only found in 49 streams in 15 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio;

Rabbitsfoot mussel

The Florida bonneted bat, found at 12 locations in central and south Florida;

Florida bonneted bat

The Kentucky gladecress, a plant found in Bullitt and Jefferson Counties, Kentucky;

kentucky gladecress

The Florida bristle fern, found in small areas of Miami-Dade and Sumter Counties in Florida;


The diamond darter, a small fish found only in portions of the Elk River in West Virginia.

diamond darter fish

To give us all a little hope, there also were four species removed from the candidate list this time around: Two plants from Puerto Rico; the troglobitic groundwater shrimp found in Puerto Rico, Barbuda and the Dominican Republic; and the fat whorled pondsnail from Utah.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife decided that the four species don't face enough threats to warrant an endangered status.

(Credits: Mussel: EPA, bat: SFWMD, gladecress: KSNPC, fern: Alan Cressler, darter: WV Division of Natural Resources.)

Meet the Five Almost-Endangered Species of 2009
This is a list you don't want to be on. Unless, maybe, you're hoping for some government help.

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