UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — People moving into Utah to enjoy all the state has to offer is nothing new, but a new snail species has joined the crowd.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says the new native species was discovered in April while biologists were surveying in the northeastern part of the state.
Zoogenetes harpa snail, more commonly known as the boreal top snail, was first spotted in Dry Fork Canyon in the Uinta Mountains. It was then seen in Big Brush Creek Canyon a few weeks later.
So far, eight of the snails have been found in the area. They were all discovered under fallen logs at or near the bottom of the canyons.
Wildlife officials say the tiny snail, which measures just 4 millimeters in length, has a unique shell that differentiates itself from other land snails in Utah. The reddish-brown, cone-shaped shell includes ribbing along the bottom spirals.
The new snail species is also good for the environment as it is noninvasive.
“Because land snails feed on living and dead plant material and help break down leaf litter and rotting wood, they are an important piece of the puzzle for healthy, functional ecosystems,” said DWR Native Aquatics Biologist Jordon Detlor. “They in turn are a food source for different insects, small mammals and even some birds, including grouse and turkeys. Snails are part of the rich diversity of wildlife that we enjoy here in Utah.”
The boreal top snail has been seen in places such as Japan, Scandinavia and the Swiss Alps, but now call Utah home as well.