A ruling on the Dunes Sagebrush lizard is due this week

From the Las Cruzes Sun-News:

A day of decision is finally near for the West’s most-publicized reptile.

The Obama administration probably will announce Thursday if the dunes sagebrush lizard will be listed as an endangered species, said Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque.

An occupant of wind-swept dunes in oil country, the lizard exists only in four counties of southeastern New Mexico and four others in West Texas.

Buckley said today the announcement on the lizard’s status probably would be made in Washington. He expects either Interior Secretary Ken Salazar or Daniel Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, to make the finding public.

Debate over whether the lizard should receive federal protection has raged for 18 months. Ashe in December postponed his scheduled ruling on lizard, saying he wanted another six months to consider scientific data.

The critter in question isn’t much bigger than your garden variety lizard and, living in Texas, lizards and gheckos are everywhere this year. We had a very mild winter and the insect population is way up since we never got a sustained, hard freeze. As a result of the insect boom, reptiles are finding plentiful food and their population is up too. I’ve rarely been able to sit on the back patio during the day without a lizard scampering across the patio right in front of me. The dogs don’t even pay attention to them anymore!

I’m planning on a trip to West Texas later in July to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I’ll report back with my findings!

U.S. Fish Wildlife Service: Species Profile

Hat Tip: Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion