Endangered Species News Roundup

Lizards, fires threatening extinction, "ghost whales" and more are in the news today.

Lizards vs. ATVs -- Thanks to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to review the Amargosa River population of the Mojave fringe-toed lizard to determine its need for Endangered Species Act protection. The lizard is particularly at risk from off-road vehicles -- but then, aren't we all?

Korea's "Ghost Whales" -- South Korea has put a price on the head of the rare and almost extinct Eastern Pacific gray whale. No, don't worry, they're just looking for information. They're offering 5 million won (about $5,300) for photos of the whale, and twice that for any whales that happen to be accidentally caught by fishermen. The point is to study the population, which Korean scientists estimate at just 121 adult whales. I'd worry that the reward would encourage fishermen to try to catch whales, but it's only being offered during a four-day research period, so maybe it will work out okay.

Australian Fire Threaten Mass Extinctions -- 25,000 hectares of Fitzgerald River National Park have burned since Tuesday, when lightning sparked massive wildfires. The park is home to numerous rare and endangered species, many of which exist only there, and some of which were previously thought to be extinct. Of particular concern are the last 200 ground parrots, as well as the dibbler, heath rat, woylie and tammar wallaby.

They Call it the Domino Effect for a Reason -- A new study says that the extinction of large African herbivore species such as elephants and giraffes would be felt through the entire ecosystem, all the way down to the ants. The study showed that when the large animals were not able to graze on certain trees, the trees produced less food and habitat for the ants. After that? Chaos ensues through the entire ecosystem.

Sorry, Charlie -- The National Marine Fisheries Service has declared that the while marlin does not require Endangered Species Act protection, even though they conceded the species is probably over-fished. Recreational fishermen rejoiced.

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