Lawsuit Aims to Protect Dunes Sagebrush Lizard From Extinction

Lawsuit Aims to Protect Dunes Sagebrush Lizard From Extinction

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for again stalling in making a decision on whether to grant Endangered Species Act protections to the dunes sagebrush lizard. The agency has delayed protecting the lizard for four decades.

The lizard lives in a very small area of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico overlaying a part of the Permian Basin, which over the last decade has been one of world’s fastest-growing oil and gas extraction areas.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

“We won’t stand by while the last dunes sagebrush lizards disappear,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate at the Center. “Even as the oil and gas industry ruins our climate, it’s also destroying the lizards’ last homes. Protection under the Endangered Species Act is this unique animal’s last hope.”

The 2.5-inch-long dunes sagebrush lizard has the second-smallest range of any lizard in North America. The lizards inhabit a rare ecosystem where they hunt insects and spiders in wind-blown dunes. They burrow into the sand beneath low-lying shinnery oak shrubs for protection from extreme temperatures.

Lead Image: Dunes sagebrush lizard. Photo by Mark L. Watson. 

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