PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation filed a petition today seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the imperiled Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle.
The tiger beetle was once found on coastal beaches from northern California to Washington but has been lost from most places it was historically found. The most recent surveys found the beetle at only 17 sites in Oregon and two sites in Washington. At nearly all sites, fewer than 50 individuals have been found.
The tiger beetle is severely threatened by habitat loss, off-road vehicles (ORVs), climate change, coastal erosion, trampling by beach-goers, inbreeding and invasive species. Endangered Species Act protection will ensure that the federal and state agencies, which manage remaining populations, protect the tiger beetle from these threats.
“Without protection under the Endangered Species Act, this gorgeous metallic beetle will continue to dwindle into extinction,” said Dr. Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist and senior scientist at the Center. “The tiger beetle’s ongoing existence requires that we humans do a more thoughtful job of sharing its beachfront habitat.”
Seven of 17 remaining beetle sites in Oregon are concentrated along a 10.5 mile stretch of the New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern, one of the last remaining wild places along the Oregon coast. Other Oregon sites occur on the Siuslaw National Forest in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, one of the most popular areas for ORV use in the world, as well as State Parks in Oregon and Washington.
“The Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle only still exists where beaches remain largely untouched, particularly in places that provide critical habitat for the federally threatened western snowy plover,” said Sarina Jepsen, petition coauthor and endangered species director at the Xerces Society. “The beetle spends part of its life burrowed in the sand, which makes it really vulnerable to trampling on the beach. Endangered Species Act protection will give this amazing animal a chance at survival.”
Named after Siuslaw Native Americans and the Siuslaw River of the central Oregon coast, the Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle hunts its prey in coastal areas where fresh water meets ocean beaches.
The tiger beetle is a fierce predator as both an adult and a larva. Adults are fast and mobile hunters that run across the sand in short bursts or short hopping flights to chase prey. The beetles run so fast that they need to stop after each burst to visually relocate their prey before continuing the pursuit. Larvae are “sit and wait” hunters that keep their heads flush with the sand surface and, when prey walks by, reach up to half their body length out of their burrows and grab the prey with its jaws, then drag it to the bottom of the burrow and consume it.