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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Agency Says Tiger Beetle At Risk, Longhorn Not

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing a Utah tiger beetle as threatened and delisting a recovering California longhorn beetle, according to new regulations.

The decision to list the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (CPSD) tiger beetle is a result of the 2011 settlement between the federal agency and environmental groups to speed listing decisions for 757 plants and animals, according to a press release by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The tiger beetle only occurs in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in southern Utah in two populations separated by three miles. The beetle is threatened by off-road vehicle use, climate change and drought, the regulation stated.

"Both the dune ridge-tops, where the beetle live, and the sparsely vegetated areas

between dunes where it breeds have been heavily degraded by off-road vehicles, which crush the beetles and destroy vegetation. By churning up the surface of the dunes and, over time, compacting them, the vehicles also reduce the amount of moisture in the sand, further compromising the beetle's fragile, semi-arid habitat," the CBD said.

The tiger beetle was first proposed for listing in 1984, but further action was stalled by funding constraints and higher priority listing actions, according to the regulation.

The federal agency proposed 2,276 acres of dune habitat within the CPSD State Park and Bureau of Land Management land as critical habitat for the tiger beetle, the regulation stated.

"The [Endangered Species] Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection and it can do the same for this struggling beetle," Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director of the Center for Biological Diversity was quoted as saying in its press release.

The valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) in the Central Valley of California might be one of those success stories, as the USFWS proposed to delist the longhorn in a separate action because the beetle is now found in 201 occurrence records at 26 locations, up dramatically from 10 occurrence records at three location at the time it was listed. The beetle is found only in association with the elderberry, its host plant, the action stated. The beetle declined as "[m]ore than 90 percent of the Central Valley's original riparian vegetation (of which elderberry is a component at some locations) had been lost," according to the agency's press release.

"Several recovery efforts have led to the protection and restoration of riparian vegetation and VELB habitat," the agency stated. The USFWS and partners planted more than 100,000 elderberries along the Sacramento River, according to the agency.

Both actions request comments and information in the formulation of final rules.

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