The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to make an initial finding within three months of getting a petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection for animals.
Center for Biological Diversity lawyer and biologist Collette Adkins Giese said that hasn't happened with a petition filed in 2012, seeing ESA protection for the animals, several of which are found only in California.
She said in the meantime, nine types of salamanders, along with lizards, frogs and the western pond turtle in California face habitat loss that threatens their survival.
We're hoping that this notice gives them a nudge that they need to move forward on protecting these amphibians and reptiles because time is really running out for these creatures,” said Adkins Giese.
Adkins Giese said the 16 species play important roles as predators and prey in their ecosystems.
“And they're also valuable indicators of environmental health,” said Adkins Giese. “The fact that these animals are dying out is a sign that we're not treating their habitat in a sustainable way, and that's not good for humans either."
She said the creatures have been around for hundreds of millions of years. But now, pesticides, climate change and drought are destroying habitat and threatening their survival.
The Center has petitioned for the western pond turtle, southern rubber boa, western spadefoot, foothill yellow-legged frog, Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard, sandstone night lizard and nine salamanders due to habitat loss and other factors “threatening them with extinction.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Sacramento said it can't comment on pending or potential lawsuits.