From the Slideshows: Tiger Salamander Dodges Winemakers and Homebuilders and Hopes to Survive

photo tiger salamander
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

So it wasn't long ago that TreeHugger featured a slideshow called "10 Creatures That Conveniently Grow Back Body Parts." One of those creatures, the Tiger Salamander, has since been granted protection under California law. Coincidence? Perhaps. Evidence of the power of green media? Sure. But the Center for Biological Diversity also had been fighting for six years to help the salamander, a species that just happens to hold keys to the regeneration of body parts that scientists continue to study. In other words, these creatures need to stick around.The center, a nonprofit conservation organization, first petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission in 2004 to list the California tiger salamander as endangered due to the impacts of urban and agricultural development. Populations in Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties and central California had been listed as endangered in previous years. Slam dunk, right? Nope.

The commission originally rejected the petition, saying there were grammatical errors (a slight simplication). The center filed suit, which eventually lead to a court order, and a 3-2 vote by the commission earlier this month to finally give the tiger salamander some tender-loving care. The creature is now listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act.

The thing is, the California tiger salamander depends on vernal ponds for breeding. But up to 95 percent of those pools have been lost to development in recent decades, according to the center.

Back to that 3-2 vote: Winemakers, business groups and homebuilders were against the threatened listing, because it will subject future development to more stringent standards, notes the Los Angeles Times.

God forbid. By the center's count, the Sonoma population of tiger salamanders survives in seven viable breeding sites, and the Santa Barbara population consists of six breeding groups.

Folks who make wine and build homes can breed in places other than vernal pools, right? Or we could just disregard all of that and slap a picture of a tiger salamander on next year's crop of vino?

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