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 maine.gov.
Read more: amphibians, animal welfare, animals, climate change, economy, endangered, endangered species, endangered species act, environment, environment & wildlife, environmental issues, frogs, global warming, habitat destruction, herpetofauna, herps, invasive species, lizards, politics, pollution, reptiles, salamanders, sea turtles, snakes, toads, tortoises, turtles, u.s. fish and wildlife service, USFWS, wildlife
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