Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 7, 2023


Camila Cossío, (971) 717-6427,

Lawsuit Launched Over Delay of Endangered Species Act Protection for 15 Animals, Plants

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for delaying critically needed Endangered Species Act protection for 15 imperiled plants and animals. The species range from cactus ferruginous pygmy owls in the Sonoran Desert to tall western penstemons in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

“Every day that protection is delayed, these species are at a greater risk of extinction,” said Camila Cossío, a staff attorney at the Center. “These species highlight the range of biodiversity imperiled by the extinction crisis, from a tiny chipmunk in New Mexico to six Texas freshwater mussels who are vital to the health of central Texas rivers.”

Today’s notice faults the Service for unlawfully delaying endangered species protections for Peñasco least chipmunks, Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigans, Texas fatmuckets, Guadalupe fatmuckets, Texas fawnsfoots, Texas pimplebacks, false spikes, Guadalupe orbs, pyramid pigtoes, South Llano Springs moss, bog buck moths, cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, tall western penstemons, and four distinct populations of foothill yellow-legged frogs. The notice also includes the delay in finalizing critical habitat protection for Humboldt martens, rare forest carnivores.

The Service has long struggled to provide timely protection to species. A recent study found that since 1992, species have waited for protection an average of nine years from the time citizens submitted a petition seeking federal listing. Under the Endangered Species Act, the process is supposed to take two years.

“The Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan is just one example of a species that’s been waiting for federal protection for over 10 years,” said Cossío. “Delays like this are far too common, and they have devastating consequences for wildlife that desperately need lifesaving federal protection.”

Species background

Peñasco least chipmunk (Tamias minimus atristriatus) is a chipmunk found only in the Sacramento and White mountains of southwestern New Mexico.

Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) is a small bird in the grouse family. It can gain body mass throughout harsh winters.

Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteate) is a freshwater mussel found in the upper reaches of major tributaries within the Colorado River basin in Texas.

Guadalupe fatmucket (Lampsilis bergmanni) is a freshwater mussel that was recently discovered to be a separate and distinct species from the Texas fatmucket.

Texas fawnsfoot (Truncilla macrodon) is a freshwater mussel found in the lower reaches of the Colorado and Brazos Rivers and in the Trinity River.

Texas pimpleback (Cyclonaias petrina) is a freshwater mussel found in the Colorado River basin in five isolated populations.

False spike (Quincuncina mitchelli) is a freshwater mussel that was once common in Texas. It was considered extinct until a single specimen was discovered in 2011. It is now found in four populations: the Little River and some tributaries; the lower San Saba and Llano rivers; and in the lower Guadalupe River.

Guadalupe orb (Cyclonaias necki) is a freshwater mussel found in just two populations in the Guadalupe River basin.

Pyramid pigtoe (Pleurobema rubrum) is a freshwater mussel found in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. It has lost nearly 80% of its range.

South Llano Springs moss (Donrichardsia macroneuron) is an aquatic moss found in west-central Texas.

Bog buck moth (Hemileuca maia menyanthevora) is a silk moth found in Oswego County, New York and Ontario, Canada.

Pacific marten (Martes caurina), also known as the Humboldt marten, is a small carnivore in the weasel family, native to the Pacific Coast. It lives in closed-canopy forests in Northern California and southern Oregon.

Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) is a small, fierce, day-hunting raptor found in the Sonoran Desert.

Central Coast population of yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) is, like all yellow-legged frogs, named after the striking lemony color under its legs. This distinct population is found from the San Francisco Bay through the Diablo Range and Coast Range.

Northern population of yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) is found primarily in Butte and Plumas counties in California.

South Sierra population of the yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) is found in the South Fork American River sub-basin and between the Sierra Nevada and the Tehachapi Mountains that border the California Central Valley.

South Coast population of the yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) is found along the coastal Santa Lucia Range and the Sierra Madre Mountains in California.

Tall western penstemon (Penstemon hesperius) is a flower found in the Pacific Northwest that is part of a genus of plants commonly known as “beardtongues.”

Cactus ferruginous pygmy owls. Credit: National Park Service. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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