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Montana News

USFWS Proposes ESA Protection For Two Species Of Stonefly

The western glacier stonefly is one of the stonefly species proposed for ESA protection.
USGS
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The western glacier stonefly is one of the stonefly species proposed for ESA protection.

Melting glaciers and snowfields are bad news for two types of stoneflies found in Montana. Today federal officials proposed Endangered Species Act protections for the insects at risk of a changing climate.

The western glacier stonefly and meltwater lednian (led-KNEE-an) stonefly are about the size of a pencil eraser. They’re winged insects that live in frigid mountaintop streams and lakes.

Serena Baker with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the stoneflies live in remote areas, so they’re mostly protected from human contact.

"The bad news is though that the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. And so, that is why we really think it is wise to go ahead and propose federal protection for them. For these icy streams that are in danger of drought and climate change."

Starting Tuesday, the Service will accept public comment on the proposed listing. That comment period will run for 60 days.

The announcement follows a lawsuit brought against the Service by an environmental group last year. The Center for Biological Diversity argued that the western glacier stonefly need to be added to the federal species protection list because melting glaciers threaten the insect with extinction, within 15 years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced Monday that four new populations of western glacier stonefly are believed to have been found in the Beartooth Mountains in southwestern Montana and Grand Teton National Park, in Wyoming.

A report from the United States Geological Survey is expected in the coming months on those potential populations.

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