Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Tehachapi Slender Salamander Does Not Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

Oct 07, 2011

October 7, 2011
Contact: Lois Grunwald, 805/644-1766, ext 332

Service Determines Tehachapi Slender Salamander 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 Tehachapi slender salamander (Batrachoseps stebbinsi) and has determined it does not warrant listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service made this finding after a thorough review of all the available scientific and commercial information on the species.

The Tehachapi slender salamander is listed as threatened by the State of California, and the Service had been petitioned by a private citizen to list the salamander as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The Service analyzed the potential impacts of cattle grazing, roads, mining, flood control projects, and commercial and residential development and concluded that none of these constitute a substantial threat to the Tehachapi slender salamander throughout its range within the foreseeable future.

The Tehachapi slender salamander occurs in the Tehachapi Mountains, which form the southeastern boundary of California’s Central Valley. The species consists of two populations, the Tehachapi Mountains population and the Caliente Canyon population, which are separated from each other by dry, rugged, mountainous terrain. The range of the Tehachapi Mountains population is about 13 miles southwest of the Caliente Canyon population on property owned by Tejon Ranch and the California Department of Parks and Recreation at Fort Tejon State Historic Park. The Caliente Canyon population is located at the northeastern end of the Tehachapi Mountains, near the small community of Loraine.

In addition, the Service finds that other potential threats, such as such as a disease epidemic, prolonged drought, large, severe wildfires, and habitat changes caused by climate change, do not significantly impact the species.

Construction of the Tejon Ranch’s proposed 7,860-acre residential and commercial development, the Tejon Mountain Village project, is not expected to be a substantial threat to the Tehachapi Mountains population of the salamander. The project does not overlap with areas where the species has been found or the areas that the Service considers to be occupied by the salamander.

On April 22, 2009, the Service published a 90-day finding concluding that the petition to list the salamander contained substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that listing the Tehachapi slender salamander may be warranted.

The Tehachapi slender salamander is a member of the lungless salamander family. When threatened, it can coil its body much like a snake. It is distinguished from other members of the lungless salamander family by having a relatively broader head, long legs, shorter tail, and broader feet. The species lacks lungs and absorbs oxygen through its smooth, thin skin. It may be dark or brick red, or light or dark brown with light tan patches or blotches in a band-like pattern.

The salamanders live most of their lives underground, emerging only when it rains. They occur on north-facing slopes within canyons or ravines, beneath rocks, fallen logs, talus, or leaf litter. They feed on small arthropods and other invertebrates.

An advance copy of the 12-month finding can be viewed online today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Desk http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx . When the finding publishes in the Federal Register on October 11, it will be available at http://www.fws.gov/ventura or at http://www.regulations.gov. For further information about the Tehachapi slender salamander and this finding contact: Michael McCrary, Listing and Recovery Program 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/.  

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