Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Lawsuit Dismissed
October 2, 2014
The dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus), a tiny lizard that is found primarily in the Permian Basin of West Texas and in New Mexico, will not be listed as an endangered species as a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The suit claimed that the institution of voluntary conservation efforts between the service and private landowners was wrong and won’t ensure long term survival of the species under the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras did say that if the measures instituted by the service and the private landowners do not adequately protect the lizard, the service can revisit its decision and list the lizard as an endangered species.
The dunes sagebrush lizard is not protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity were the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which has been an ongoing saga for the lizard for several years. In 2010 the USFWS proposed that the lizard be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
In May 2012, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said if enough oil companies and ranchers take steps to preserve the habitat for the lizard, it won’t have to be listed as endangered. These voluntary efforts were implemented but the program was overseen by oil industry lobbyists, to the chagrin of environmentalists. Furthermore, the state of Texas’ plan to protect the lizard was never released to the public, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The dunes sagebrush lizard is found in southeastern New Mexico and west Texas. Its habitat includes small areas of shinnery oak dunes in these states, according to the USFWS.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata