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Dunes sagebrush lizard may be listed as an endangered species

Friday, July 24, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Photo by Ryan Hagerty, USFWS (CC0)

The dunes sagebrush lizard, a native species, has the smallest range of any lizard in the United States – a 655-square-mile habitat that occupies four counties in Texas and a small area in New Mexico. Already limited by its small habitat, the lizard’s future is uncertain due to territory threats from sand mining, oil and gas development, and climate change. Based on the habitat threats facing this species and its listing as endangered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted a petition on July 16 to list the lizard as a federally endangered species. According to USFWS, the rare lizard has been a candidate for this listing since 2001. Nearly two decades later, the petition will undergo a 90-day finding period, an early step in the rigorous process for listing. Following this, the petition to list the lizard will be scrutinized in a yearlong process. The public is invited to submit comments to assist the Fish and Wildlife Service in determining whether the dunes sagebrush lizard qualifies as an endangered species.

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