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Round Pigtoe (Pleurobema Sintoxia)

Existing Protection or Other Status

Pleurobema sintoxia is listed as common (G4) in North America (Natureserve.org 2003). However, it is presently listed as endangered in Iowa (Cummings and Mayer 1992) and Pennsylvania (R. Evans, Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory, pers. comm. September 2002), threatened in Minnesota (M. Davis, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, pers. comm. September 2002), special concern in Michigan (P. Marangelo, The Nature Conservancy – Michigan Chapter, pers. comm. September 2002) and Wisconsin (W. Smith, Natural Heritage Inventory Program, pers. comm. September 2002) and as a species of special interest in Ohio (Cummings and Mayer 1992). It is therefore afforded some protection in these states. The Round Pigtoe is not currently listed or proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, nor is it listed in the IUCN Red Book. Sub-juristictional (state and provincial) ranks for the species are shown in Figure 7

Ontario is one of six provinces that have stand-alone Endangered Species Acts (B.T. Fowler, Co-Chair, Lepidopterans and Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee, COSEWIC, pers. comm. August 2002). Species designated as endangered are protected from willful destruction under these Acts. Seven species of freshwater mussels that are listed as endangered by COSEWIC, namely, the Rayed Bean (Villosa fabalis), Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola), Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana), Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), Mudpuppy Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua), Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus fasciolaris) and Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda), are found only in the Province of Ontario. None of these species has been listed as endangered by Ontario, so they do not benefit from provincial legislation at this time.

The Round Pigtoe population in Lake St. Clair is located entirely within the territory of the Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN). Special user permits are required to access First Nation territory and waters, which limits human disturbance in the area. The WIFN has no specific policy protecting the species at risk within their territory, but their philosophy is: “To preserve, enhance, and maintain a mutual respect, to continue a beneficial dependency upon the environment, and endeavor to co-exist with Mother Nature and protect this relationship” (C. Jacobs, Walpole Island Heritage Centre, pers. comm. October 2001). The Walpole Island Heritage Centre has been notified about the presence of the population of P. sintoxia in their territory.


Figure 7: State and Provincial Conservation Priority Ranks (S-ranks) for Pleurobema sintoxia

Figure 7: State and provincial conservation priority ranks (S-ranks) for Pleurobema sintoxia.

The federal Fisheries Act may represent the most important legislation protecting mussel habitat in Canada. Freshwater mussels are considered to be shellfish and, as such, are included in the definition of “fish” under this Act. Collection of live mussels is considered “fishing” and therefore falls under the Ontario Fishery Regulations made under the federal Fisheries Act. Threatened and endangered species in Ontario receive policy level protection from development and site alteration through the Provincial Policy Statement under the provincial Planning Act. The Ontario Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (prohibiting the impoundment or diversion of watercourses that would lead to siltation) and the voluntary Land Stewardship II program of OMAFRA (which is designed to reduce the erosion of agricultural lands) also protect mussel habitat. Stream-side development in Ontario is managed through flood plain regulations enforced by local Conservation Authorities. Land ownership along the reaches of the Sydenham, Grand, and Thames rivers where P. sintoxia occurs is mainly private and most of the land is in agricultural use (Protection/Ownership in the section on Habitat).