Park officials hunt hot spring swimmer who jeopardized critically endangered Banff snails

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Authorities are trying to locate a rogue swimmer after reports of an illegal dip that potentially devastated the Banff hot spring habitat of a highly endangered snail.

Despite warning signs around the pool in the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, park officials believe a rogue bather entered the water on Sunday Mar. 3.

His action disturbed a thin membrane of organic material on the water’s surface which is invaluable to the survival of the Banff Springs snail.

“There was destruction and damage to their critical habitat including the microbial mat,” Dr. Dwayne Lepitzki, a conservation biologist who studies the snails, told CTV Calgary.

“There could have been a few individuals that died but we’ll never be able to know exactly how many died.”

According to researchers the rare snail population has at times been fewer than 100.

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