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Fish and Wildlife Service to gather more information on two rare reptiles in the Southeast

Another Salamander Does Not Need Further Review

A Caribbean skink and a Florida lizard need more study to determine whether they need to be included on the federal list of endangered and threatened species. 

More scientific and commercial information will be compiled for the Lesser Virgin Islands skink found in and around St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands as well as the Florida scrub lizard found in central and south Florida.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will complete this work and use it to develop a 12-month finding for both species.  The Service and its partners will continue to research the reptiles’ life history, biological requirements, and habitat threats, as part of the 12-month finding.

At the same time, the Service announced that a salamander, the Fourche Mountain salamander, found in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas, does not need the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) protection.  The salamander lives in the Ouachita National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  The Forest Service takes the salamander into account in its land management plans and works with the Service to take care of the salamander and its habitat.  Conservation partnerships like this have made it possible for the Service to determine that protecting the Fourche Mountain salamander is not needed.

The Service’s Southeast Region through an aggressive At-Risk species conservation effort is strengthening existing partnerships, building new ones, and completing a range of conservation actions with the partners, including better surveys and monitoring.  As a result, to date, more than 70 species across the region do not need the ESA’s protection.  Another dozen species’ status has improved from endangered to threatened and in some cases, like the Louisiana black bear, the species have been recovered and removed from the list.

Today’s decisions, known as 90-day findings, are in response to petitions from the Center for Biological Diversity to list the three reptiles under the ESA.

In a 2014 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center provided substantial information that the Lesser Virgin Islands skink faces threats from the present or possible modification or destruction of its habitat; predation from mongooses and rats; and a lack of existing regulations to protect the skink.  In a 2012 petition, the Center also provided substantial information that the Florida scrub lizard faces threats from the present or possible modification or destruction of its habitat and from natural or manmade factors, such as fire suppression.

“Conservation of diverse and rare “at-risk” plants and animals can only be achieved through partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies, private organizations, businesses, universities, and landowners,” said Leopoldo Miranda, Southeastern Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “We will be soliciting and studying data obtained from our research and our partners’ work to decide whether the Lesser Virgin Islands skink and the Florida scrub lizard require protection under the Endangered Species Act.”       

Organizations or individuals that wish to present scientific and/or commercial information on the Florida scrub lizard or Lesser Virgin Islands skink should contact Andreas Moshogianis at (404) 679-7119, or andreas_moshogianis@fws.gov.

For more details on the Service’s current analysis of each of these species, please visit our information page: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/candidateconservation/August-2016-batch/.  For more information on the 90-day finding process, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-petition-process.html.

To view the complete Federal Register notice on September 14, visit the _Federal Register_’s website at https://www.federalregister.gov/

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. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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