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Little Lizard Gets Another|Chance at Protection

WASHINGTON (CN) - The flat-tailed horned lizard finally may get protection under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reintroduced a 1993 proposal to list the little lizard.

In 1993, the agency concluded that the tiny sand colored reptile faced potential extinction due to destruction of its habitat by human encroachment, but the proposal was pulled. The agency has proposed and withdrawn the proposal two more times.

Each time, legal action by the Tucson Herpetological Society, the Horned Lizard Conservation Society, the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity forced the agency to reinstate its proposal. The most recent action was in 2009 when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the agency's determination that flat-tailed horned lizard populations were stable and viable throughout most of the species' current range was not supported by the administrative record.

The flat-tailed horned lizard has a flat body and sandy coloration that allows it to disappear into the desert floor when a predator threatens. The species is put at risk by habitat loss from development, specifically, U.S. Border Patrol construction of roads and the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the Arizona Fish and Game Department notes on its Web site.

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