Snailing at Chittenango Falls

April 23, 2021

In 2001, the zoo joined the effort to preserve the most endangered animal in New York State, the Chittenango Ovate Amber Snail. Found only in a small section of a rock ledge in the spray zone of Chittenango Falls located east of Syracuse, the Ovate Amber Snail competes with an invasive European snail.

In collaboration with the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation we assist with population surveys across their rocky ledge habitat.  Over the past 20 years, zoo staff have participated in these annual surveys. Mark and recapture studies can tell us how the population is doing and we can use that data to estimate population size. Many different projects have also taken form, all in an effort to help protect this species. Surveys look at native plants and park staff are working to keep the invasive plants from overtaking the Ovate Amber Snail habitat. The snail eats native plants like Joe Pye Weed. Invasive species can grow at an alarming rate and out-compete this native plant for resources. SUNY ESF has a very successful captive propagation program to preserve the species in hopes of someday returning them to the falls. Studies conducted on the water quality and environmental conditions around the falls can help us understand the threats that the snails are facing.

For more information visit the DEC’s website here.

– Robin English, Veterinary Technician