Rare American salamander endangered

Tehachapi slender salamander

By Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

Fish and Wildlife Service to study a stealthy amphibian

Jeremy Nichols says he became smitten by the Tehachapi slender salamander when he ran across an article about it four years ago in a book about North American reptiles and amphibians.

The brick-red and stealthy Batrachoseps stebbinsi clings to existence in two canyons about 13 miles apart and separated by a freeway 60 miles north of Los Angeles. It lives mostly underground and, without lungs, absorbs oxygen through its skin. When threatened, it can coil its body like a snake. …

So Nichols, acting as a private citizen, filed a petition in 2006 requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list the salamander as an endangered species because of ongoing threats to its subterranean haunts. He cited Tejon Ranch Co.’s development plans, mining, livestock grazing and road construction as threats.

The agency agreed on Wednesday to study the matter, declaring in the Federal Register that Nichols’ petition presented “substantial scientific or commercial information” to warrant a comprehensive review.

That could see the broad-headed, long-limbed salamander — first scientifically identified in 1968 by noted herpetologist Robert C. Stebbins — brought under federal Endangered Species Act protections within a few years. …

Unlike many salamanders, the enigmatic species is a terrestrial breeder that lays its eggs in moist soils deep beneath rocky north-facing canyon slopes.

It is unknown how long it lives, and no juveniles have been seen in the wild or reported.

In an important victory for wildlife, the Obama Administration revoked an eleventh-hour Bush-era rule that would have weakened the Act’s protections: here.

4 thoughts on “Rare American salamander endangered

  1. Wildlife: Regulations on reptile and amphibian collecting

    Sunday, July 05, 2009

    By Scott Shalaway

    In recent weeks, I have mentioned that bullfrogs and snapping turtles are fair game in Pennsylvania. Since then, I’ve heard from several readers who were surprised that some species of reptiles and amphibians may be legally harvested in the state.

    The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is responsible for managing herps (a collective term that includes both reptiles and amphibians), and a valid fishing license is required of anyone catching or taking herps from commonwealth waterways. A fishing license is not required to take herps on land.

    Here’s a brief summary of regulations governing the harvest of herps in Pennsylvania:

    Bullfrogs, green frogs and snapping turtles may be taken from July 1 through Oct. 31. The daily frog limit is 10; the possession limit is 20. The limits for snappers are 15 daily, 30 in possession.

    There is no closed season on amphibian eggs and tadpoles, with limits of 15 and 15 combined species.

    The open season on timber rattlesnakes and copperheads runs from June 13 through July 31. The annual limit is 1 of each species, and a special permit is required to take poisonous snakes. Timber rattlers must be at least 42 inches long, excluding the rattles.

    All threatened and endangered species enjoy complete protection. A list of these species is available at the Web site listed below.

    The following species also have complete protection. There is a possession limit of zero and no open season for eastern hognose, eastern ribbon, eastern worm, mountain earth, queen, shorthead garter, smooth earth and smooth green snakes; broadhead and northern coal skinks and northern fence lizard; Blanding’s, wood, spotted, and eastern box turtle (note: box turtles may not be legally possessed); eastern hellbender, mudpuppy, four-toed, Jefferson, marbled, and ravine salamanders; and northern cricket, mountain chorus, and striped chorus frogs.

    For all other native reptiles and amphibians in the state, there is no closed season with a possession limit of 1 each.

    For details about organized rattlesnake hunts and restrictions on the methods of taking herps, consult the Fish and Boat Commission’s 2009 Fishing Laws and Regulations Summary Book, (www.fish.state.pa.us/fishpub/summary/repamp.html). Or call the Southwest Regional PFBC office in Somerset at 814-445-3497.
    Scott Shalaway is a biologist and author. He can be reached at http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com and RD 5, Cameron, WV 26033.

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09186/981670-358.stm?cmpid=lifestyle.xml#ixzz0KNCwEaJK&C


  2. Endangered arroyo toad in line for habitat boost

    10:00 PM PDT on Monday, October 12, 2009

    The Press-Enterprise

    The endangered arroyo toad — for years the subject of controversy involving federal officials — may get a huge increase in habitat protections throughout Southern California under a new proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The service has opened a 60-day public comment period on a plan to set aside 109,110 acres of private, federal, state and tribal lands as “critical habitat” for the small, buff-colored toad with dark-spotted, warty skin.

    The proposal is part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed suit after the wildlife agency designated less than 12,000 acres of habitat for the toad in 2005.

    “It’s a hop in the right direction,” said Noah Greenwald, the center’s endangered species program director. “Given that almost 500,000 acres were proposed in 2000, we hope that the administration will stick with at least this 109,000 acres.”

    The arroyo toad has garnered a lot of publicity, starting in 2003 when John Roberts, then an appellate judge, referred to it as a “hapless toad” in an opinion on a lawsuit over the Endangered Species Act. The controversy was raised during hearings for Roberts’ confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2005.

    One of the habitat designations for the toad also was part of a scandal involving Julie MacDonald, a Bush-era assistant Interior Department secretary who oversaw fish and wildlife and parks.

    Federal officials have proposed increasing the critical habitat for the endangered arroyo toad.

    An investigation by the U.S. Inspector General’s Office found that MacDonald “bullied, insulted and harassed” staff to change documents and alter biological reporting regarding the endangered species program and disclosed nonpublic information to industry lobbyists.

    About a year after MacDonald resigned in 2006, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would re-evaluate critical habitat designations made under her tenure for eight species, including the arroyo toad.

    Critical habitat is area considered vital for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species. The designation affects only activities involving the federal government, such as a permit, license or funding, that also would harm the quality of the habitat. It does not necessarily restrict development, though modifications may be required.

    The toad lives and breeds in slow-moving pools and open, sandy terraces by streams.

    In the Inland region, the largest areas proposed for habitat are 8,173 acres in the Upper Santa Margarita River Basin, in southern Riverside County and northern San Diego County; 5,919 acres in the Upper Mojave River Basin in San Bernardino County; and 5,667 acres in San Juan Creek Basin in southwestern Riverside County and southern Orange County.

    Also included are the Cajon Wash north of San Bernardino, San Jacinto River Basin, San Mateo Creek Basin, and the Whitewater River Basin in the Coachella Valley. The designation also covers land in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

    This is the third critical habitat designation for the toad since it was listed as endangered in 1994.

    In June 2000, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed setting aside 478,000 acres of critical habitat but scaled it back to 182,360 acres in 2001.

    After the agency was sued by the building industry and other groups, it re-proposed 138,713 acres of critical habitat in 2004 and made a final designation of 11,695 acres the next year.

    The lawyer for the Building Industry Association, Andrew Henderson, said he is reviewing the latest proposal to make sure the Fish and Wildlife Service properly applied the law and explore whether the economic analysis was properly done.

    “We fully saw this coming. We still have to dive into the details of the proposal and determine the strength of their evidence for what they’re proposing and the implications of it,” he said.

    Fish and Wildlife officials could not be reached for comment. But in the past, a spokeswoman said the reduction of critical habitat was made based on new information that revealed the toads didn’t live in some of the proposed areas.

    In some cases, the acreage was refined to exclude areas too steep to be used by the toad or removed because alterations to projects or developments that would have been required to protect the habitat exceeded a $10 million threshold.

    In the latest proposal, the agency mapped more precisely the critical habitat areas essential for the conservation of the toad, according to a news release. It also reflects information on the distribution of toads that has come to light since the 2004 critical habitat proposal, the release said.

    For details and maps, go to http://www.fws.gov/ventura/newsroom/public_comments.html.

    To comment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed designation of 109,110 acres as critical habitat for the arroyo toad, go to http://www.regulations.gov, for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2008-0089; or send by mail to: Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2008-0089 Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA, 22203.


  3. Pingback: New Californian millipede discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: New Californian millipede discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.