For Immediate Release, September 4, 2008
Contact: Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Protection Sought for Dusky Tree Vole Under Endangered Species Act
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Oregon Wild and Portland Audubon filed a formal notice of intent to sue today against Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne for failing to respond to a June 18, 2007 petition to protect the dusky tree vole as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
“The dusky tree vole is threatened by decades of excessive logging on private and state lands in the Tillamook region of Oregon’s north coast,” said Noah Greenwald, science director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Without better forest protection, the dusky tree vole is in immediate danger of extinction.”
The dusky tree vole is a subspecies of the red tree vole, which is only found in forests of the Tillamook region along Oregon’s North Coast. Tree voles live nearly their entire lives in trees and are dependent on structures typically associated with older, unmanaged forests such as large, wide branches, broken and forked tree tops, and “witches’ brooms” – an abnormal tufted growth of small branches on trees often caused by fungi or viruses.
Recent surveys failed to locate the voles in places where they were once common.
“For too long, the Tillamook has been a sacrifice zone for industrial forestry,” Greenwald said. “ Forest reserves and better forest practices are needed to save the tree vole, salmon and dozens of other wildlife species in the Tillamook.”
The failure by members of the Bush administration to respond to the petition is typical of their approach to implementing the Endangered Species Act, which can be characterized as a concerted effort to minimize protections for the nation’s wildlife by not protecting new species under the Act and providing as little protection as possible to those species that are protected.
To date, the Bush administration has only protected 60 species of plants, animals, and fish under the Endangered Species Act, compared to 522 species protected during the Clinton administration and 231 during the elder Bush’s tenure. The present administration also recently proposed sweeping changes to the rules that govern how the Endangered Species Act is carried out — changes that would eviscerate protections for endangered species by excusing thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Act.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the administration should have issued an initial finding of whether the petition on the dusky tree vole presented sufficient information to warrant further consideration within 90 days and a finding of whether the species warranted protection within 12 months of receiving the petition.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 180,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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