UNITED STATES NEWS

Endangered status sought for gopher tortoise in 4 states

Mar 22, 2023, 10:12 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Gopher tortoises imperiled by loss of habitat largely caused by human development should be placed on the endangered species list in four southern states, environmental groups said Wednesday as they prepared to sue the federal government over the issue.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Nokuse Education filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision last year not to list the gopher tortoise as endangered or threatened in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and eastern Alabama.

The center noted there are some state-level protections for the burrowing tortoises but those generally require the animals to be moved from a development site and do not protect their habitat overall. The tortoises have lost 97% of the longleaf pine savannas where they lived for millions of years in the South.

“Without lifesaving Endangered Species Act protection for our gopher tortoises, urban sprawl will keep driving them ever closer to extinction,” said attorney Elise Bennett, the center’s Florida director.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has projected that 75% of the current gopher tortoise population will be lost by 2100. The burrows they dig with shovel-like front legs, which can extend 30 feet (9 meters) underground, also support an estimated 360 other species that use them.

The tortoises are listed as endangered in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and western Alabama but efforts to list them in their eastern range have proved futile.

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in October 2022 that “the risk factors acting on the gopher tortoise and its habitat, either singly or in combination, are not of sufficient imminence, scope, or magnitude” to warrant threatened or endangered status. That decision led to the pending lawsuit.

Gopher tortoises once inhabited more than 92 million acres (37 million hectares) of land in the southeastern U.S. but now have only a fraction of that space due to human development, agriculture, climate change, invasive species and other issues, according to the center’s lawsuit notice.

They can live up to 80 years but reach reproductive age slowly.

An email seeking comment about the pending lawsuit was sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

United States News

Associated Press

3 falcon chicks hatch atop the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in a nest built at the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels said Friday that the chicks hatched in a nesting box set up by the agency atop a 693-foot-tall (211-meter-tall) tower on […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Baltimore police fatally shoot a man who pulls gun during questioning; detective injured

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police officers in Baltimore fatally shot a man who pulled a gun while they questioned him in a different shooting, authorities said. A detective was shot in the chest, and his protective vest likely saved his life, Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters. Police were on the city’s south side investigating a […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

California teenager arrested after crowd pounded and kicked a deputy’s car

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenager was taken into custody after a crowd of young people swarmed a deputy’s patrol car earlier this month, kicking and punching the vehicle before the deputy could drive away, a California sheriff’s office said this week. The 15-year-old male allegedly opened the driver’s door of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s […]

8 hours ago

Travelers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City...

Associated Press

Record broken for most travelers screened at US airports on Friday, according to TSA

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports.

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Biden’s message to West Point graduates: You’re being asked to tackle threats ‘like none before’

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Saturday told graduates of the U.S. Military Academy that their class is being called upon to tackle threats across the globe and preserve the country’s ideals at home “like none before.” Biden said the phrase, the class motto, was apt for the sorts of challenges they […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Tornado warning issued for parts of Oklahoma amid severe storms as heat scorches South Texas

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Scattered severe storms continued in Oklahoma and forecasters issued a tornado warning for some parts of the state Saturday night, as some heat records were broken during the day in South Texas and people were warned of triple-digit temperatures over the long holiday weekend. The National Weather Service’s office in Norman, […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

Endangered status sought for gopher tortoise in 4 states