Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe
Goal: Ensure the survival of an endangered beetle by designating an adequate protected habitat
The Salt Creek tiger beetle is one of the rarest insects in the world, inhabiting a tiny area within the state of Nebraska. In 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the beetle as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and has just recently finalized its designation of critical habitat to help with population recovery efforts. Despite a recommendation from scientists that the beetle requires more than 36,000 acres of critical habitat to make a comeback, FWS designated only 1,110 acres. Let Director Daniel Ashe know that you are appalled by the lackluster effort of the agency to help this extremely rare species’ recovery.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, there are estimated to be just under 400 Salt Creek tiger beetles remaining in the landscape. The beetles once inhabited large areas of saline marshes and streams in two Nebraska counties, but human activity in the form of housing, commercial and agricultural development has destroyed more than 90 percent of the beetle’s salt marsh habitat. Only three known populations remain, all along the Little Salt Creek in the city of Lincoln.
FWS originally designated 14,334 acres of critical habitat, which was later slashed to 7,300 acres and then again to 1,933 acres. Conservation groups, including Rocky Mountain Wild and the Xerces Society, launched lawsuits against FWS to demand additional acreage protection. The organization’s response was to drop the designated critical habitat amount yet again, to just 1,110 acres.
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is to protect wildlife, not the interests of building developers and big agriculture. Urge Director Ashe to oversee efforts that will provide the Salt Creek tiger beetle with the proper amount of designated critical habitat needed to make a lasting recovery.
Dear Director Ashe,
I was disappointed to learn that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated a mere 1,110 acres of critical habitat in Nebraska for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. The agency has disregarded scientists’ recommendations that 36,000 acres are needed, and it continues to decrease the amount of acreage of critical habitat, as it has done for years.
It appears that the Service has been swayed by lobbyists to protect the financial interests of building developers and big agriculture, instead of adhering to its core mission of protecting wildlife. I urge you to oversee efforts that will ensure the long-term survival of this extremely rare insect. Urban and agricultural development has destroyed over 90 percent of the beetles’ habitat and it is estimated that fewer than 400 beetles remain. Human activity has caused this destruction and it is our responsibility to reverse the course and put the Salt Creek tiger beetle on a sustainable path to recovery.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Seth Willey via Wikimedia Commons