Division of Fish and Wildlife awarded $238k to conserve imperiled snails

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Fragile Tree Snail (Samoana fragilis). Seen by DLNR-DFW biologists in 2015, the first
detection of this species on Rota since the 1990's.

May 23, 2016 — The DLNR-Division of Fish and Wildlife was awarded grant funding from the Competitive State Wildlife Grant program (SWG) administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The CNMI grant is the first-ever awarded to a U.S. Territory in the 8-year history of the national Competitive SWG program. According to DFW Director Manny Pangelinan, the $238k grant will enable DFW to hire a new Rota-based biologist to focus full-time on snail conservation issues. Many of the CNMI's rare snail species can be found on Rota.

Pangelinan also recognized Conservation Planner Jill Liske-Clark's work that led to the grant award, "Many states apply for these competitive grants but Liske-Clark's work on the grant application as well as her outstanding work on the 2015 CNMI Wildlife Action Plan gave us the edge we needed."

In 2015, the Service listed three tree snail species in the CNMI as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Tree snails are threatened by invasive predators including rats, habitat loss, and impacts from climate change. To maintain and potentially increase the current distribution of the snails, DFW will develop a habitat model to improve management effectiveness, while locating new and managing existing tree snail colonies. This work will lay the foundation for a regional, collaborative conservation strategy for partulid tree snails across the Mariana Islands.

The State Wildlife Grant program targets conservation and protection of "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" as identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. The CNMI Wildlife Action Plan, which describes CNMI Species of Greatest Conservation Need, is available for download from the DFW website at http://www.cnmidfw.com/2015wap/.