WASHINGTON (CN) – Despite finding that degradation of the scrub-forest habitat threatens the survival of the striped newt, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that protecting the species under the Endangered Species Act is precluded by higher-listing priorities.
Instead the agency will place the species on its candidate species list, which consists of 263 other species that, like the newt, are precluded by higher-listing priorities.
The stripped newt is endemic to temporary ponds on the fringes of forests in Georgia and Florida. The agency says there are only five known populations of the species in Georgia. While there are more breeding populations in Florida, the species can be found there in only three of that state’s counties.
In 2008, the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy petitioned to list the striped newt as threatened under the Endanger Species Act.
The petition said that forest-fire-suppression practices in the newt’s scrubby-forest habitat allowed overgrowth of the forest canopy and the invasion of lowland-grass species that crowded out the newt’s preferred food source, wiregrass.
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