Monday, 20 December 2010

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Proposed for Endangered Listing in ESA

More than eight years after the Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to earn protection for the imperiled dunes sagebrush lizard, this week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally proposed to declare the species endangered. The light-brown, yellow-eyed lizard -- about the length of a human hand from nose to tail -- dwells in the dunes of New Mexico and Texas, where it buries itself in cool, white sand in the shade of shinnery oaks to avoid predators and regulate its body temperature. Unfortunately, oil and gas development and herbicide spraying are fast destroying the habitat of this rare reptile -- which already has the second-smallest range of any North American lizard. The species was first found to warrant federal protection in 2004 following our 2002 petition, but instead of adding it to the endangered species list, the feds made it a "candidate" for Endangered Species Act status -- putting off real protection indefinitely.

"The unique dunes sagebrush lizard may finally be receiving the help it needs to survive," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. "Unfortunately, during eight years of delay, the lizard lost more of its habitat to oil and gas development, putting it at greater risk of extinction and making recovery harder."

Herp Digest Volume # 10 Issue # 54 12/16/10

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