Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Federal Wildlife Officials Respond to Petitions to List Dozens of Species under the Endangered Species Act
Agency requests information to review status of three Northeast species

June 30, 2015


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Telephone: 703-358-2220

Blanding's turtle

This Blanding's turtle was cared for by students at Bristol Agricultural School in Dighton, Massachusetts, and released along with 50 other turtles at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in 2011. The head-start program has helped boost this population since its initiation in 2006. Credit: Keith Shannon/USFWS
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In response to several petitions, including a 2012 mega-petition claiming that dozens of reptiles and amphibians require Endangered Species Act protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published its initial review of 31 species, finding that 21 species require further study before a decision on whether they need that protection. The remaining eight petitions did not present substantial information for moving forward.

Four of the 31 species occur in the Service’s 13-state Northeast Region. The Service came to a “substantial finding” for three species, the Blanding’s turtle, green salamander and spotted turtle, triggering a deeper scientific status review known as the 12-month finding.

A petition on a fourth species found in the region, Weller’s salamander, did not provide substantial information warranting a status review. The “not substantial” finding is a final decision point, meaning the species will not be further considered for federal protection based on that particular petition.

These actions, called 90-day findings, are the Service’s first step after receiving petitions requesting federal protection for plants or animals. To make the findings, Service biologists reviewed the scientific and commercial information presented within the petitions:

  • The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is found in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Review of the petition indicated that the pet trade, predation, road mortality, inadequate protections, and development are threats that should be further evaluated as part of a thorough status review.
  • The spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is found in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. Review of the petition indicated that the pet trade, habitat destruction and fragmentation, predation, road mortality and inadequate protections are threats that should be further evaluated as part of a thorough status review.
  • The green salamander (Aneides aeneus) is found in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Indiana. Review of the petition indicated that habitat destruction, collection, disease, isolated populations and human-induced chemical exposure are threats that should be further evaluated as part of a thorough status review.
  • Weller’s salamander (Plethodon welleri) occurs in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The petition claims that the salamander warrants listing due to habitat lost to development and logging, inadequate protections, climate change, and the vulnerability faced by small isolated populations to stochastic events and gene flow. However, the petitioner did not provide substantial information on these threats and their effects on the species.

The Service seeks the best scientific and commercial data available from all sources for the thorough reviews of the three Northeast species. Organizations or individuals can submit information starting July 1 through the following Federal Register dockets at Blanding’s turtle (FWS–R3–ES–2015–0041), spotted turtle (FWS–R5–ES–2015–0064) and green salamander (FWS–R4–ES–2015–0052). The review of the Weller’s salamander petition can be found under FWS–R4–ES–2015–0065.

For more information on the 90-day finding process, visit



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