Salamander protection draws legal challenge
Capital Press Staff Writer
May 19, 2006
SACRAMENTO, CA - The federal government’s listing of the Central California Tiger Salamander as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act is invalid and illegal, according to a lawsuit by Pacific Legal Foundation.
“The Central California Tiger Salamander has not been shown to be in danger,” said PLF Principal Attorney Reed Hopper. “To the contrary, it has more breeding sites in Central California than the government claims."
The ESA listing has led to economic restrictions on land slated for development, agricultrural or other uses in at least 19 counties in Central and Northern California, he said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies have indicated that habitat loss is a crucial impediment to the salamander's survival chances.
Among the groups that pushed for the amphibian's protection: the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Center, Defenders of Wildlife, VernalPools.Org, Butte Environmental Center, Sierra Club Sonoma Group, Citizens for a Sustainable Cotati, Ohlone Audubon Society, and others.
However, Hopper contended that there may be well over 800,000 members of the species. He cited a review of data by the Central California Tiger Salamander Coalition, an industry group.