SACRAMENTO (CN) – The California Fish and Game Commission was wrong to reject a request to add the California tiger salamander to the state’s endangered species list, a California appeals court ruled.
Evidence introduced by the Center for Biological Diversity showed that the indigenous salamander has lost about 75 percent of the vernal pool habitat where it breeds. One study pegged the destruction and modification of habitat as the primary threat to the species. California tiger salamanders must also compete for food with nonnative animals, including the bullfrog and predatory fish.
“Unless introductions of these nonnative species are curtailed and existing populations are actively removed,” Justice Butz wrote, “their continued presence likely precludes salamander use of these habitats.”
The salamanders also face hybridization with the nonnative “waterdog,” an eastern tiger salamander formerly imported to California as live fish bait.
Other threats include diseases, contaminants and agricultural practices.
The court cited these and other scientific findings as evidence that the commission had a duty to consider before denying the petition to list the tiger salamander as endangered.
Under the California Endangered Species Act, a listing petition must be accepted for consideration if it is supported by enough information to make a strong case for listing.
Butz said the petition “clearly affords sufficient information to indicate that some listing action may be warranted.”