Western group petitions for species protection | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 11, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 11, 2008

Western group petitions for species protection


This undated handout picture shows a Common Kingfisher with a fish in his pecker. Germany's environmental protection organisations NABU (Naturschutzbund) and LBV (Landesbund fuer Vogelschutz) announced yesterday that they had nominated the Common Kingfisher as "Bird of the Year 2009".Photo: AFP

A tortoise, a hare, a mouse and a half-dozen mussels are some of the creatures that a conservation group hopes to save through a "Western Ark" project aimed at petitioning the government for federal protection.
WildEarth Guardians filed eight petitions Thursday seeking protection for a diverse group of 13 plants and animals with ranges that span more than a dozen states and stretch into Mexico and Canada.
"We deliberately wanted to petition at once for a variety of plants and animals and this is to underscore that the Endangered Species Act really is like Noah's ark," said Nicole Rosmarino, the organization's wildlife programme director. "We want as many species that are in need to board the ark as possible."
WildEarth Guardians reviewed the status of hundreds of species including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates looking for those that had the best cases for protection under the federal act.
"We really wanted a wide range just to demonstrate to the government and the public that that's what this law is all about," Rosmarino said. "The Endangered Species Act is all about protecting the rich tapestry of life."
The "Western Ark" petitions are the latest salvo in the battle the group has been waging against the federal government over endangered species listings. WildEarth Guardians points out that the polar bear was the first US species to be listed in over two years and that all of the listings under the Bush administration have been prompted by either citizen petitions or legal action.
The organisation in the past year has petitioned for protections for hundreds of species, including prairie wildflowers, butterflies, amphibians, fishes, snails, trees and cactus.
The Fish and Wildlife Service vowed at the beginning of this year to make a dent in the backlog of species needing to be reviewed for possible ESA protection. In a step toward that goal, the agency announced last month it was taking a new, ecosystem-based approach to the endangered species list and proposing an all-at-once addition of 48 Hawaiian species to list.

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