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Cave Dwellers Finally|Get Critical Habitat

WASHINGTON (CN) - It took 12 years, and a trip to federal court, but nine species of endangered cave dwelling invertebrates have been given just over 4,000 acres of critical habitat for recovery, according to a designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The three beetles and six spiders are found only in a series of caves in Bexar County, Texas. The nine were first protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2000.

The USFWS originally proposed designating over 9,000 acres in Bexar County as designated habitat, but made a final proposal of just 1,063 acres in 2003.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens Alliance for Smart Expansion, and Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas challenged that proposal in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, in Jan. 2009.

The suit alleged that the USFWS failed to use the best available science, and incorrectly excluded areas vital to the survival of the nine species in it making its critical habitat designation.

The two sides settled in Dec. 2009, and the USFWS agreed to issue a final designation by Feb. 2012. The designation is effective March 15.

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