FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 1998
Contact: Diana M. Hawkins

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ANNOUNCES PUBLIC HEARINGS ON PROPOSAL TO LIST FLATWOODS SALAMANDER AS THREATENED

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the flatwoods salamander, an amphibian, as threatened on the Federal list of endangered and threatened species and invites comments from the public at meetings scheduled this month in Savannah, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida.


Flatwoods Salamander
(FWS Photo by J. Palis)
The flatwoods salamander is indigenous to the longleaf pine flatwoods of the lower southeastern United States and grows to a little more than 5 inches in length. It feeds on insects and, in appearance, it is black to chocolate brown in color with light, silvery gray lines that form a net-like or banded pattern across its body.

According to the Service's Southeast Regional Director Sam Hamilton, the species was once found in Alabama, northwest and central Florida, south Georgia and southern South Carolina. Surveys have shown that areas of pine woods in the salamander's historic range have been reduced by more than 80 percent, a major factor in the amphibian's decline, Hamilton said. Its attractiveness in the domestic pet market also represents a potential threat, he said.

The Service's proposal to list the salamander was initially published December 16, 1997, in the Federal Register and the public was invited to submit written comments. The comment period on the proposed rule originally closed on February 17, 1998, but in order to accommodate additional input from the public, the Service has reopened the comment period until June 1, 1998.

The first public hearing will be held in the auditorium at the Savannah Technical Institute, 4717 White Bluff Road in Savannah, Georgia, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on April 14, 1998. A second hearing will be convened from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on April 15, 1998, in Tallahassee, Florida, at the Hermitage Centre at 1801 Hermitage Boulevard. All interested parties are invited to present information at the hearings in the form of verbal or written statements.

The Service is seeking comments, suggestions, and any additional information on the biology, threats, distribution, population size, or current or planned activities and their possible impacts on this species. The Service will consider all comments and information submitted by June 1, 1998, before making a final decision regarding listing of the salamander.

The flatwoods salamander now exists on private and public land in parts of Baker, Calhoun, Franklin, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington counties in Florida; Baker, Bryan, Evans, Liberty, and McIntosh counties in Georgia; and Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina. It has not been found in Alabama since 1981.

Written comments and materials may also be sent to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Jackson, Mississippi 39213, (601/965-4900). Comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above address. A copy of the listing proposal can also be obtained here.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages more than 94 million acres of land and water consisting of 512 national wildlife refuges, 65 national fish hatcheries, 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl production areas, and 50 wildlife coordination areas.

The agency also enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.

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Release #: R98-021


1998 News Releases

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