For Immediate Release, October 17, 2022
Tiffany Yap, (510) 847-5838, TYap@biologicaldiversity.org
Two California Salamanders Proposed for Endangered Species Protections
Grazing, Roads, Climate Change Threaten Kern Canyon, Relictual Slender Salamanders
CARLSBAD, Calif.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protecting two species of salamander in Southern California under the Endangered Species Act, while denying protections to a third. The Kern Canyon slender salamander will be protected as threatened and the relictual slender salamander as endangered. The agency declined to protect the Kern Plateau salamander.
Today’s proposal responds to a 2012 petition and subsequent litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity. As part of the decision, the agency proposed to protect 2,051 acres of critical habitat for the Kern Canyon slender salamander and 2,685 acres for the relictual slender salamander.
“I’m so glad these two secretive, slender salamanders are finally on track to get the protection they need to survive,” said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center. “Protecting these salamanders will help preserve the seeps and streams that provide clean water for wildlife and people alike.”
The Kern Canyon slender salamander and relictual slender salamander have small ranges in the southern Sierra Nevada, where decades of livestock grazing, logging and development — including the construction of the Isabella Dam and state Route 178 — have taken their toll. The Kern Canyon slender salamander is believed to survive at just nine sites and the relictual slender salamander at 12. The latter species has been lost from the Lower Kern River Canyon.
Both species are lungless, breathing through their skin. They are terrestrial salamanders that catch invertebrates with projectile tongues. The salamanders are found close to water, including seeps and streams, under cover objects such as logs, leaf litter and rocks. They’re thought to be highly sedentary, not moving far from where they were born.
“Few may ever be fortunate enough to see one of these intriguing salamanders, but their habitat is important, and they play a crucial role in the web of life, helping to control insect populations and providing prey to other animals,” said Yap. “We can’t allow these unique salamanders be lost to our own carelessness.”
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.