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Rare moth on protection list

PUBLISHED: 16:06 20 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 23 August 2010

LEGAL protection has been granted to a moth threatened by rising sea levels, a rare frog and an aquatic snail. The Fisher s estuarine moth, which is found only on the coasts of north Kent and north-east Essex, is one of the most threatened species in th

LEGAL protection has been granted to a moth threatened by rising sea levels, a rare frog and an aquatic snail.

The Fisher's estuarine moth, which is found only on the coasts of north Kent and north-east Essex, is one of the most threatened species in the UK.

New laws will also cover the whirlpool ram's-horn snail, restricted to a few locations in Norfolk, Suffolk and Sussex and the pool frog that nearly died out in the 1990s and lives at one site in Norfolk.

On Monday minister for wildlife, Joan Ruddock, said the new protection for three species, under the Habitats Regulations, comes into force from October 1.

Natural England is encouraging landowners and farmers to plant hog fennel inland and sow seeds of the plant into established grassland to protect the moth.

Spokesperson Sarah Brockless, said: "If we hadn't stepped in to create new areas of hog's fennel away from the threat of rising sea levels this beautiful moth would have struggled to survive."

The Fisher's estuarine moth, discovered in the UK in the 1960s, has a total population estimated at between 1,000 and 5,000.

Its range is limited to areas of hog's fennel, the sole food source of the Fisher's estuarine caterpillar.

All three species will be protected from being killed, taken, injured, disturbed, owned or sold, or having their resting or breeding places destroyed.

The rare pool frog has a long history in Britain, with remains dating back to 1,000 AD being found at sites in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. In the 1990s the population shrank to just one site in Norfolk.

Frogs were imported from Sweden and introduced to a secret site in Norfolk three years after genetic studies linked it to a group from Norway and Sweden.

It is hoped that it will now be possible to reintroduce it to ponds in other parts of East Anglia.

Natural England amphibian specialist Jim Foster said "Early signs are encouraging that the pool frogs are settling in to the current release site

"However it will be several years before we can confidently assess the success of this reintroduction."

The ram's horn snail, which has a flattened spiral shell, is threatened by land drainage.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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