USFWS Cancels Dune Lizard’s Protection

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not be protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species, saying it “has adequate habitat to persist into the future.”
     The USFWS, in a new rule, announced that it has determined that the threats to the species and its habitat have been reduced to the point that the species does not meet the statutory definition of an endangered or threatened species.
     When the USFWS addressed destruction of habitat from oil and gas development, it said, “portions of the species’ range have high levels of oil and gas development. This development has led to the historic loss of vegetation, and has caused soil compaction and habitat fragmentation. However, more than 50 percent of the dunes sagebrush lizard’s range is not currently fragmented with oil and gas, and the lizard has adequate habitat to persist into the future.”
     When discussing whether it should rely on New Mexico Conservation Agreements, a Texas Conservation Plan, and [the Bureau of Land Management’s Special Status Species Resource Management Plan Amendment] to provide adequate protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard and its habitat, the USFWS said it has “concluded that those conservation efforts address threats throughout the range of the dunes sagebrush lizard, and are adequate to reduce the threats to the species such that it no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened.”

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