Endangered species help effort gets moving

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TOPEKA, Ill. (WAND) – A hatchery is stepping up to help save an endangered species.

The Jack Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery plans to put mussels in the Sangamon River this year, with the goal of helping Lake Decatur redevelop its population.

Hatchery leaders say the lake used to have a higher level of mussels in it, but they’re no longer there.

“Illinois has about 80 known species (of mussels) historically,” said JWMF Assistant Manager Diane Shasteen. “We’re down to a little over 40.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says over half of the nearly 80 species of known mussels in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and several other states are considered federally endangered. It called their situation a “gravely imperiled” one.

Hatchery leaders say mussels are important because they serve as “livers of the river”, helping to filter out water as it flows downstream.

The group says mussels go extinct because of pollution, water dredging and river modifications.

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