They’re slimy and cold-blooded.
But conservationists say amphibians and reptiles are important indicator species – and some of the most endangered.
Five of these sensitive creatures that call Washington home are among more than 50 included in a petition for federal protection.
Arizona’s Center for Biological Diversity has filed the petition for protection of 53 amphibians and reptiles in 45 states. Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist in the Center’s Portland office, says these creatures are especially vulnerable because they inhabit water and land.
“So, one of the things that humans do to the landscape is a lot of times we put roads or developments between the water and the land. And so then they’re born in their ponds or their streams or their creeks or their streams and then they can’t get to the upland habitat that they need to survive.”
She says more than a third of amphibians around the world are faced with extinction. And they’re important indicators of good water quality and environmental health.
Washington creatures in their petition include the Cascades Frog, the Western Pond Turtle and three species of salamanders, all of which are struggling with the pressures of development. The Olympic, Cascade and Columbia Torrent Salamanders are particularly impacted by silt from logging and damming.
Conservationists say there are things that can be done to help all of these species, without much impact on human economies – such as creating stream buffers and setting aside wetlands. If they’re listed under the endangered species act, those measures would be required by law.
A first review of the petition, by the US Fish &b Wildlife Service, is expected in about 15 months.