WASHINGTON (CN) – Despite finding that the survival of the striped newt is threatened by degradation of its scrub forest habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said protecting the species under the Endangered Species Act is precluded by higher listing priorities.
Instead, the agency is placing the species on its Candidate Species list, which consists of 263 other species whose listing under the Act – though warranted – the agency says can’t be accomplished until other, higher priority species are listed.
The stripped newt is endemic to temporary ponds on the fringes of forests in Georgia and Florida. The agency says only five populations of the species are known in Georgia and, while there are more breeding populations in Florida the species can only be found in three of that state’s counties.
The agency’s action was in response to a 2008 petition submitted by the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy, 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 which crowded out the species’ preferred food source, wiregrass.