A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) identifies the nation’s top 10 amphibians and reptiles in need of immediate federal protection to stave off extinction. The list includes a yellow-legged frog from California’s high Sierras, a two-foot-long eastern salamander and a colorful northeastern turtle.
The report, Dying for Protection: The 10 Most Vulnerable, Least Protected Amphibians and Reptiles in the United States, details the population declines and ongoing threats that have left once-common species like the western pond turtle and boreal toad spiraling toward extinction.
“These increasingly rare frogs, salamanders and turtles are on the fast track toward extinction if we don’t step up and rescue them,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a CBD lawyer and biologist who specializes in conserving amphibians and reptiles. “And it’s not just about protecting these irreplaceable amphibians and reptiles; it’s about protecting the health of the priceless environment we share with them.”
Some of the species included in the report have lost more than 90 percent of their habitat and, without Endangered Species Act protection, many will continue to decline due to fragmentation of their declining populations, pesticide pollution, killer diseases and over-collection. Scientists now estimate that one in four of the nation’s amphibians and reptiles are at risk of extinction, yet they make up only 61 of the approximately 1,400 U.S. species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Last year the CBD and several internationally renowned conservation scientists, including E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy, filed a petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection for 53 of the nation’s most threatened species of amphibians and reptiles. In 2011 the CBD signed a landmark settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is speeding protection decisions for 757 species, including dozens of amphibians and reptiles. More....