For Immediate Release, April 22, 2009
Contact: Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 654-5943
Another Tejon Species, the Tehachapi Slender Salamander,
Headed for Endangered Species Protection
LOS ANGELES— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that the Tehachapi slender salamander could warrant federal Endangered Species Act protection due to the destruction of its very limited habitat in the Tehachapi mountains and southern Sierras of California. The salamander now lives primarily on Tejon Ranch, the massive, privately owned biodiversity gem north of Los Angeles.
“The Tehachapi slender salamander has taken a beating in the northern part of its range, while its southern range is now threatened by proposed developments on Tejon Ranch,” said Ileene Anderson, a Center for Biological Diversity biologist. “This very rare animal needs immediate protection.”
The Tehachapi slender salamander is known from only two populations. One in Caliente Canyon in the southern Sierras and one in the Tehachapi Mountains entirely on Tejon Ranch. Development plans on Tejon Ranch threaten five of the known locations of the secretive salamander. The salamander is also threatened by road construction, mining, livestock grazing, and flood-control projects. It has, for example, been eliminated from the Tehachapi Pass area due to highway construction.
“Development of Tejon Ranch poses an immediate threat to the Tehachapi slender salamander and dozens of other species,” said Anderson. “If we’re going to save California’s natural heritage, including this salamander, more land needs to be protected from urban sprawl.”
The Tehachapi slender salamander, first scientifically identified in 1968, was
petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 2006 by Jeremy
Nichols, an independent petitioner. It is an enigmatic species that lives on rock talus and leaf covered slopes on northern exposures from the Kern River Canyon south to the Fort Tejon area – a range of less than 60 miles. Unlike many salamanders, the Tehachapi slender salamander is a terrestrial breeder, and it is believed that it lays its eggs in the moist soils underlying the deep rock talus and leaves that make up its habitat. It is unknown how long the Tehachapi slender salamander lives. Juveniles of the species have never been documented.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.