U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes federal protections for both species of western pond turtle under the Endangered Species Act
Ventura, California – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposal to list both species of western pond turtle, the northwestern pond turtle and the southwestern pond turtle, as a threatened
The northwestern pond turtle occurs in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and throughout much of northern and central California. The southwestern pond turtle occurs in southern California from Monterey County south to Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties into northern Baja California, Mexico. The turtles use rivers, lakes, ponds, streams other water sources and terrestrial habitats throughout their lives.
Ongoing threats to both species include worsening drought conditions, habitat loss and fragmentation, and predation by invasive species such as non-native bullfrogs.
“Food, water and shelter for northwestern pond turtles and southwestern pond turtles are becoming scarce across the western United States,” said Paul Souza, director of the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region. “We are working alongside
The Service reviewed the best available science to evaluate the status of both species by preparing a Species Status Assessment, including information provided by species experts.
The assessment found that although the southwestern pond turtle and northwestern pond turtle are likely to sustain populations in the wild in the near term, both species have increasing risk of extinction due to population losses, decreased genetic diversity, and a reduced ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions in the next half century, thus warranting listing as threatened under the ESA.
The Service is also proposing
Ongoing conservation efforts continue to support populations of southwestern pond turtle and northwestern pond turtle in the wild. These include development of a range-wide management strategy by federal, state, and private partners to guide efforts to enhance, protect and restore pond turtle habitat; collaboration with military installations
Today’s announcement comes as the Department of the Interior celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ESA. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.
The Service will seek public comment on this proposal. The documents will publish in the Federal Register on October 3, 2023 opening a 60-day public comment period. The Service will consider comments from all interested parties received by December 4, 2023. The proposal and information on how to submit comments can be found on or after October 3, 2023 at www.regulations.gov
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/cno and connect with us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, X,