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Record-Breaking Petition Filed to Protect Reptiles and Amphibians

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The Center for Biological Diversity and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, including E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy, filed a formal petition on Wednesday seeking Endangered Species Act protection for 53 of the nation’s most threatened species of amphibians and reptiles. The petition — the largest ever filed focusing only on amphibians and reptiles — asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect six turtles, seven snakes, two toads, four frogs, 10 lizards and 24 salamanders under the Act.

“Many of America’s frogs, turtles and salamanders are living on the knife edge of extinction. We can only save them if they’re protected by the Endangered Species Act,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center biologist and lawyer devoted to herpetofauna. Amphibians and reptiles face a profound, human-driven extinction crisis unlike any other. If we don’t act now, we’ll lose some of our natural world’s most important and fascinating citizens.”

Through extensive consultation with wildlife experts, scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity conducted a coast-to-coast investigation of the country’s most vulnerable but least protected frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, turtles and snakes. Backed by hundreds of scientific articles, the 450-page petition details the status of, and threats to, 53 amphibian and reptile species in 45 states, demonstrating the urgent need for their federal protection. Habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species and climate change are among the chief threats they face.

Some species have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat.

“We will get serious — scientists and general public alike — about preserving the diversity of life on Earth only when we have precise knowledge of individual species like those in this petition,” said Edward O. Wilson, a distinguished Harvard biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. “Future generations will think badly of us if, through ignorance and inaction, we let die this part of their natural heritage.”

Scientists estimate that about 25 percent of the nation’s amphibians and reptiles are at risk of extinction, yet only 58 of the approximately 1,400 U.S. species protected under the Endangered Species Act are amphibians and reptiles. The animals in today’s petition will reap lifesaving benefits from the Act, which has a 99 percent success rate at staving off extinction for species under its care.

You can learn more about the reptile extinction crisis here or view an interactive state-by-state map to find threatened species in your backyard. Check out the following pages to see pictures and facts about 8 of the 53 species in the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition.


Photo of Blanding’s turtle courtesy of

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6:34AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Thank you.

4:16PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

Thank you!

9:07AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

Reptiles are among my favourite animals since I was a child. Amphibians are lovely too, of course. Crocodiles, lizards, frogs, I love them all.

2:15AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

Hope and pray that the authorities do not turn a blind eye to our petitions, which is able to protect Reptiles and Amphibians

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

So many fascinating species that are endangered or face becoming endangered and need protection. Quite shocking when some have lost 95 percent of their habitat! Splendid turtles such as the Blandings Turtle and so many other species must be preserved and protected. They are all unique and offer so much in beauty and are part of Nature's splendid treasures.

4:58PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

Will this include the Snapper turtles that are tortured to death in the annual snapperfest?

6:11AM PDT on Jul 18, 2012

I'm happy to hear this.
Now if they will actually follow through with fining people and companies that cause destruction, then I will know it was a success.

2:41AM PDT on Jul 18, 2012

Noted, thanks

5:17PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Noted. Thanks.

8:17AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Good for us! We did a very good thing when we got together and signed this, en masse.

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