Feds consider protections for lizard species

Federal officials have launched a formal review to determine whether seven Caribbean lizard species need protections as endangered or threatened species.

The species, part of the skink family, are found only in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said Monday.

Scientists are launching a 12-month review of the species, which is mandated under the Endangered Species Act before FWS can decide whether a listing is warranted.

Center for Biological Diversity formally petitioned for the protections in 2014.

“The Endangered Species Act can save these skinks,” Collette Adkins, a biologist with the group, said in a statement.

“We can best deal with the habitat loss and invasive predators that threaten to wipe out these skinks by getting them protected under the act. This announcement means they’re one step closer to getting the protections they need.”

Two other lizard species in the petition were rejected, along with three other reptile species, because the FWS said the groups asking “did not present substantial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted.”

In the same Monday announcement, FWS rejected separate proposals to add and roll back protections for a specific grizzly bear species and the Yellowstone bison.

FWS is also conducting 12-month listing reviews for two beetle species, a butterfly species and a fisher species.