Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizard Does Not Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

Oct 03, 2011

October 3, 2011
Contact: Lois Grunwald, 805/644-1766, ext 332

 

Service Determines Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizard Does Not Warrant Protection Under The Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that it has completed a status review of the Amargosa River population of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard (Uma scoparia) and concluded based on genetic evidence that the population is not a distinct and separate population of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard and as such cannot be considered for listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service made this finding after a thorough review of all the available scientific and commercial information on the species.

In May 2006, the Center for Biological Diversity and a private citizen petitioned the Service to list the Amargosa River population as a distinct population segment (DPS) under the ESA. In January 2008, the Service published a 90-day finding that concluded that the petition contained substantial information to indicate that listing may be warranted. In the 12-month finding, the Service concluded the Amargosa population does not constitute a DPS.

A DPS is a subgroup of a vertebrate species that is discrete from other populations and significant in relation to the entire species. The ESA provides for listing species, subspecies, or distinct population segments of vertebrate species.

The Service asks anyone with new information regarding the status and threats to the Amargosa River population and the species overall to submit it to the Service. This information will help the Service monitor and encourage the ongoing management of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard.

The population of Mojave fringe-toed lizards that resides near the Amargosa River occurs at several dune complexes on Bureau of Land Management land about 30 miles north of the city of Baker. The lizard also occurs at Ibex Dunes, which is within Death Valley National Park.  

The Mojave fringe-toed lizard species is native to southern California deserts and a small area of western Arizona. It is widespread geographically across this region in Inyo, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties. In Arizona, the species occurs in La Paz County. The Mojave fringe-toed lizard species is not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

The Mojave fringe-toed lizard is in the family of North American spiny lizards. It is distinguished from other fringe-toed lizards by crescent-shaped markings on the sides of its throat and a conspicuous dark black spot on the sides of its belly. The lizards are believed to live out their entire lives in sand dunes or other sandy areas. During breeding periods, the bellies of the adults are yellow-green and their sides are pink. At other times, the lizards’ color mimics the sand dunes, rendering them nearly invisible to predators.

The lizard feeds on insects, seeds and flowers. Annual plant species provide important forage in the spring. It derives most of its water from eating insects and plants.

An advance copy of the 12-month finding can be viewed online today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Page. When the finding publishes in the Federal Register on October 4, it will be available at http://www.fws.gov/ventura  or at http://www.regulations.gov . For further information about the Amargosa population of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard and this finding contact: Michael McCrary, Listing and Recovery Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office by mail at 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 92003 or by calling 805-644-1766.

The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.cno. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/usfwspacificsouthwest , follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSPacSWest , watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/

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