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For Immediate Release, October 2, 2012

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle in Utah Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

More Than 2,000 Acres of Protected Critical Habitat Also Proposed

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle, a half-inch-long beetle that lives only in southern Utah. The Service has also proposed to protect 2,200 acres of critical habitat for the beetle in Kane County, Utah. The beetle is entirely limited to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes on the Arizona-Utah border and is severely threatened by off-road vehicles.   

Spring pygmy sunfish
Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle photo by Mark Capone, USFWS. Photos of this and other species in the 757 agreement are available for media use.

Today’s decision is the result of a 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological requiring the Service to speed protection decisions on 757 plants and animals across the country.

“These rare, striking beetles are in trouble and can only be saved by Endangered Species Act protection,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection and it can do the same for this struggling beetle.”

The beetle has a white body and striking reddish bands running down the center of its forewings. It occurs only in the pinkish, wind-blown dune formations of southern Utah, where its two main populations are threatened by off-road vehicles and climate change.

Both the dune ridge-tops, where the beetle live, and the sparsely vegetated areas
between dunes where it breeds have been heavily degraded by off-road vehicles, which crush the beetles and destroy vegetation. By churning up the surface of the dunes and, over time, compacting them, the vehicles also reduce the amount of moisture in the sand, further compromising the beetle’s fragile, semi-arid habitat.

The beetles are known for their highly metallic body coloring, large eyes and the fine white hairs that cover much of their body and legs. Like other tiger beetles, they are much sought-after by amateur insect collectors. The beetles were first identified as needing protection in 1984. 

“These colorful beetles have waited far too long for protection,” said Greenwald. “But now we can protect their habitat and give them a real chance to survive.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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