Two Caribbean Plants Threatened

ATLANTA (CN) -Two rare Caribbean plants may become extinct due to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to act., says the Center for Biological Diversity in Federal Court.

     Agave eggersiana is a “robust, perennial herb that can grow from 16 to 23 feet tall.” It is native only to the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
     Solanum conocarpum “is a thornless flowering shrub that may reach more than 9 feet in height.” It is native only to the island of St. John. In 1996, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife of the U.S. Virgin Islands petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service regarding these plants.
     Since then, the center and the fish and wildlife service, which often caters to commercial interests, have debated whether the plants should be listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. But the fish and wildlife service remains mired in indecision.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit organization that protects ecosystems, is suing Sam Hamilton and H. Dale Hall, in their positions as southeast regional director and director, respectively, of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to this allegation, according to a federal lawsuit. Dirk Kempthonre, secretary of the Interior, is also named as a defendant in this suit.
     Lawrence Sanders of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic of the Emory University School of Law and Michael Ray Harris of the Environmental Law Clinical of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law are representing the plaintiff.

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