Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Invasive apple snail threatens Florida Everglades clean up

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida wildlife and water managers are worried about an invasive snail that is wreaking havoc on the state's billion-dollar effort to remove chemicals from the fragile Everglades.

The South American apple snail first appeared in large numbers in 2010, according to Audubon Florida science coordinator Paul Gray, and was initially seen as a potential savior of an endangered bird, the snail kite.

During the prior decade the number of kites, a gray bird with a hooked beak, had fallen to about 700 from 3,400 as their main food source, the native apple snail, became scarce after years of drought and hurricanes.

The abundance of South American apple snails, a popular aquarium pet native to Brazil and Argentina, helped the bird’s numbers recover to 1,200 this year.

"These snails are new, and this is the first time something like this has ever happened in Florida," Gray said.

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