The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to change the Endangered Species Act status of the Morro shoulderband snail from endangered to threatened on Thursday.
According to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity, the snail is found only in the Los Osos and Morro Bay area of western San Luis Obispo County.
Wildlife officials said the shoulderband snail has a stable or increasing population and has benefited from the protection of coastal dune and sage-scrub habitat preserves.
Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said this is good news.
“Like everything it does, this snail is moving very slowly toward recovery. It evolved with our signature coastal dunes and scrub, so let’s keep it around for future generations to marvel at, too," said Miller.
The Morro shoulderband snail lives in native vegetation on sandy soils of coastal dune and coastal sage scrub habitats. Its native range covers about 7,700 acres, extending from Morro Strand State Beach in northern Morro Bay southward to Montaña de Oro State Park and inland to eastern Los Osos, according to the release.
Wildlife officials said the snail is named for the dark spiral band on the shoulder of its shell. The snails are active during rain and heavy fog, but go dormant during the dry summer
Unlike invasive garden snails, shoulderband snails mostly consume fungal mycelia that grow on decaying plant matter, are not a garden pest, and help build up the soil, according to the news release.
“Recovery of this snail shows that if we want to save species from extinction, we have to protect the places they live,” said Miller. “Saving the snail has protected places we all love, making life better on the central coast.”