by Vincent Gabrielle, The Darien Times

A coalition of environmental groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition last week with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to get horseshoe crabs listed as an endangered species, following a similar petition filed in December by the Darien-based Friends of Animals.

Scientists say horseshoe crabs are “functionally extinct” in Long Island Sound, eventhough Connecticut banned hand-harvesting last year. While you may still find them on beaches up and down the east coast, they aren’t laying eggs or recovering their population fast enough to keep up with harvesting elsewhere, and more protection is needed beyond the confines of Connecticut’s coastline, advocates say.

“Horseshoe crabs don’t obey state borders and will spawn in adjacent beaches in New York where they aren’t protected,” said William Harlan, a scientist with the nonprofit center.

Scott Smith, Friends of Animals spokesman, said the local group welcomes the coalition in “joining the fight” to protect a species as old as the dinosaurs.

Harlan noted that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature rated the horseshoe crab has having a zero chance of recovering in the next century, under current threats and management.

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