Showing posts with label endangered species. Show all posts
Showing posts with label endangered species. Show all posts

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Natrix natrix cypriaca, Court Ruling

A Cyprus Mail story By Poly Pantelides reports that the European Court of Justice yesterday said Cyprus broke EU law by failing to protect Paralimni lake and the endangered native grass snake.

“We hope (the ruling) will lead to swift action to properly protect the highly threatened Paralimni Lake, home to this unique snake and also a key site for birds,” said BirdLife Cyprus’ executive director, Dr Clairie Papazoglou. “We also hope it will lead to the authorities taking their obligations to implement EU nature directives far more seriously,” Papazoglou added.

However, Hans-Jorg Wiedl the reptile expert who rediscovered the grass snake after it was thought to be extinct for 40 years and who has been lobbying authorities for years, thinks “it’s too late”.

“It will take a miracle to save the snakes,” said, Wiedl better known as Snake George. “It breaks my heart,” he said almost in tears.

The endangered nonvenomous grass snake, Natrix natrix cypriaca, sometimes called the water snake can be found in Paralimni Lake and the Xyliatos Dam.

However Cyprus had not originally included the lake in its list of sites of community importance (SCIs) as part of the Habitats Directive.

The island’s federation of environmental and ecological organisations complained to the European Commission in May 2006, and in March 2007 the Commission launched an infringement procedure against Cyprus, asking the government in a letter of formal notice to include the lake in the CSIs list.

Cyprus said it would do this before the end of 2007 but eventually claimed the Commission did not follow proper procedure, so in June 2008 the Commission issued a reasoned opinion asking Cyprus to comply with the Habitats Directive.

Although the Republic responded with a list of measures it was taking to protect the grass snake and Paralimni Lake, the Commission received complaints on property development of the northern part of the lake.

By 2009, Cyprus included Paralimni Lake in the CSIs, except for the northern part of the site.

The Commission argued that the lake was essential to the survival of the grass snake but failing to include parts of it could not ensure the snake’s protection and conservation.

Cyprus said the snake was only found in the southern and eastern parts of the lake.

Because development in the area took place after the Commission launched the infringement procedure, the Commission’s arguments on the effect development could have on the snakes could not be admitted, the court said.

The court, however, said that excavation works in the northern part of the lake did disturb the snake and Cyprus “did not put in a system of strict protection in place”.

Cyprus broke EU law by not including the entire Paralimni Lake in the CSIs, “tolerating activities which seriously compromise the ecological characteristics” of the lake, “by not having taken the protective measures necessary to maintain the population” of the grass snake, and “by failing to take measures “to establish and apply a system of strict protection for that species,” the court said.

If Cyprus fails to act, the Commission may give it one final written warning before sending the case back to court, imposing potentially hefty financial penalties including a daily penalty payment for each day until the infringement ends.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Salamanders, Rattlesnakes, & Tortoises - Conservation News


The Center for Biological Diversity Announces news for endangered herps. Each announcment is linked to a longer press release.

47,000 Acres Protected for California Tiger Salamander
In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week designated 47,383 acres of federally protected "critical habitat" for the California tiger salamander's Sonoma County population. The move reverses a 2005 Bush decision to set aside no critical habitat; it protects many "vernal pools" that host the salamander during winter rains as well as increasingly rare grasslands and oak woodlands.

The Center earned protection for the Sonoma County tiger salamander in 2003. This yellow-spotted, black amphibian is threatened by development, pesticides, hybridization with nonnative salamanders, disease and predation.

Declining Rattlesnakes
Just days after one snake species, the Lake Erie water snake, was declared recovered thanks to the Endangered Species Act, a snake researcher and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to save another snake under the successful law. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake -- the largest rattlesnake in the world -- is native to the Southeast but dwindling fast due to habitat loss and human exploitation, especially through "rattlesnake roundups" -- grisly festivals that encourage the collection and slaughter of these imperiled snakes.

"The Endangered Species Act just saved the Lake Erie water snake -- it's the surest tool we have to save the diamondback rattlesnake too," said Collette Adkins Giese, the Center's attorney devoted to saving reptiles and amphibians.

Recovery Plan Weakens Desert Tortoise Protection
Instead of upgrading protections for the Mojave's desert tortoise, the species' new federal recovery plan makes matters worse for the ancient, threatened reptile. Until the new plan was released last Friday, the tortoise's recovery plan -- a document laying out steps and criteria for removing the species from the endangered list -- hadn't been updated since 1994. And now, while tortoise populations continue to crash, the revised plan fails to address some of the direst threats to the species, including livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, nonnative plants, climate change and energy development.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to save the desert tortoise since the '90s, when we filed our first appeals to stop harmful livestock grazing in tortoise habitat. So Center biologist Ileene Anderson has good authority to compare the old and new plans: "The new recovery plan only exacerbates the ongoing problem of desert tortoise recovery, which has been the failure to implement most of the science-based recommendations in the old plan. This plan simply doesn't cut it."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Update on San Francisco's Sharp's Park and the California Red-legged Frog

Camden Swita, a reporter for the Menlo Park Patch is reporting that a group of environmental  organizations are suing San Francisco today over violations to the Environmental Species Act at Sharp Park Golf Course. 
A California Red-legged Frog egg 
mass at Sharp's Park that is drying out. 
Photo Credit Camden Swita.
The Wild Equity Institute had issued a 60-day intent to sue with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (RPD), which manages the golf course, on Nov. 18, 2010, but nothing had been sent to a court until today. Joining  Wild Equity as plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Surfrider Foundation, Sequoia Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club.The plaintiffs' intentions in the suit are: to compel the RPD to adopt a complete habitat restoration agenda for Sharp Park west of Highway 1; second, to force the RPD to develop a habitat protection process for the land in accordance with ESA laws; and third, they want a cessation to endangered and threatened species deaths at Sharp Park. The plaintiffs' complain that currently the city and county of San Francisco are unlawfully killing frogs and snakes, and that damage has been done to these populations as recently as last week.


As recently as February 22, 2011, the Plaintiffs have discovered California red-legged frog egg masses exposed to the air due to the water management activities conducted by the City. Because these egg masses must stay moist to survive, egg masses exposed to the air quickly dry out, and all the frog eggs die. A single egg mass can contain thousands of eggs: thus, the loss of even one egg mass can result in significant mortality for the species. Follow this link to the whole story.