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For Immediate Release, December 21, 2012

Contact:  Collette Adkins Giese, (651) 955-3821

Settlement Will Speed Recovery of Endangered California Tiger Salamanders 

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today announced a settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop recovery plans for endangered California tiger salamanders. Under the settlement approved by the court last week, all three populations of California tiger salamanders will receive final recovery plans within the next five years.

“I’m so glad these three populations of the beautiful, severely endangered California tiger salamander will finally get recovery plans,” said Collette Adkins Giese, the Center’s attorney dedicated to conserving amphibians and reptiles. “Timely development of these plans is absolutely necessary, because they give us a roadmap of the actions needed to ensure the species will survive.”

Recovery plans are the main tool for identifying actions — such as research and habitat restoration and protection — necessary to save endangered species from extinction and eventually be able to remove their protection under the Endangered Species Act. Research by the Center has found that the status of species with dedicated recovery plans for two or more years is far more likely to be improving than of those without.

The settlement agreement sets a schedule for development of recovery plans for all three populations of California tiger salamanders, including the Santa Barbara, Sonoma and central California populations, which are individually protected under the Endangered Species Act and have been since 2000, 2002 and 2004, respectively. Some of the most threatened salamanders are in Sonoma County, where nearly all of the salamander’s known breeding sites are in areas being rapidly converted to high-density housing, office buildings, roads and other urban development.

“Exotic predators and habitat destruction are pushing California tiger salamanders to the brink of extinction,” said Adkins Giese. “Recovery plans developed under this agreement will make sure that we’re doing everything we can to ensure these salamanders don’t vanish.”

The California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) is a large, stocky, terrestrial salamander with a broad, rounded snout and gorgeous black-and-yellow body. These amphibians are restricted to vernal pools and seasonal ponds in grassland and oak savannah communities in central California. The primary cause of the decline of the California tiger salamander is the loss and fragmentation of habitat through human activities and encroachment of nonnative predators.

Three populations of California tiger salamander are protected under the Endangered Species Act: Sonoma, Santa Barbara and central California. Under the settlement, recovery plans will be developed by June 2016 for the Sonoma population, December 2016 for the Santa Barbara population and June 2017 for the central California population. 

For more information about the Center’s campaign to stop the amphibian and reptile extinction crisis, please visit

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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