Feds: Holly tortoise is not threatened at most of its range

Holly turtles — burrowers whose vast homes shelter many other animals — are generally healthy and need federal protection only in small areas declared endangered 35 years ago. the government said on Tuesday.

Thanks to extensive conservation efforts and recently discovered populations, GeorgiaReptiles in the state of are no longer candidates for protection for the majority of their range: floridaAccording to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, southern Georgia, much of the coast of Alabama, and a small portion of South Carolina.

The decision is likely to disappoint environmental groups that have sued for protection of the entire range.

Small isolated populations remain threatened in southeastern Mississippi and in some areas, according to the agency. Louisiana Alabama and Alabama, which make up about 12% of the turtle’s range.

“Efforts to improve the environment for giant tortoises have been effective, with scientists, experts and wildlife experts strategically using the best resources to enable the giant tortoises to recover from where they are most vulnerable. It is important to do so,” said Leopoldo Miranda Castro of the Service. The Southeast Regional Director said in a news release.

The average length of a sand turtle is 9 to 11 inches (23 to 28 cm), but researchers have found burrows up to 40 feet (12 m) long. Over 360 species of animals have been found in occupied or abandoned burrows. The 60 vertebrate species include the Dusky Gopher Frog, the Eastern Indigo Snake, and the Burrowing Owl.

Logging and development are two of the biggest threats to sand turtles. It lives in sandy highland forests with widely spaced trees, including longleaf pine savannas that once covered an area larger than Germany. The once vast forest has now dwindled to about 5% of its area.

But restoring long-leaf pines is one of many programs that have helped the turtles, says the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The sand turtle is one of more than 500 species listed as potentially in need of protection to resolve a lawsuit filed by two Arizona-based environmental nonprofits in 2011. . Biodiversity Center and Wild Earth Guardians based in New Mexico.

The Center for Biological Diversity feels strongly that turtles need federal protection, attorney Ellis Bennett said Friday as the deadline for the decision approaches.

“State programs, especially in Florida, the center of their reach, are not working,” she said. “Florida is mostly just moving them out of underdeveloped areas into smaller and smaller habitats. And fragmentation is already a problem.”

A federal statement said Florida has 50 long-term relocation sites covering more than 120 square miles (310 square kilometers) of gopher habitat.

According to federal agencies, many populations in the eastern region of about 109,700 square miles (284,100 square kilometers) are doing well despite threats such as climate change, sea level rise, and habitat loss and fragmentation. .

“Future projections … indicate that many healthy populations will remain within range,” it said.

However, the 15,000-square-mile (39,000-square-kilometer) western region has smaller populations, lower reproductive rates, and a lower ability to recover from population and environmental changes, the agency said.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the green turtle now inhabits approximately 161 square miles (417 square kilometers) of the area and is both non-threatened and critically endangered.

“Because of their longevity, sand turtles will remain in the landscape for decades, despite current and ongoing threats.”


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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-new-orleans-louisiana-florida-georgia-b2200243.html Feds: Holly tortoise is not threatened at most of its range

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