2 Southwest snakes are at center of environmental group's lawsuit

By Jill Ryan
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2023 - 1:52pm

Narrow-headed garter snake
Center for Biological Diversity
A narrow-headed garter snake.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit on Aug. 22 accusing two federal agencies of failing to protect the habitats of two snake species in Arizona and New Mexico. 

According to the group, the two species were both listed as threatened throughout their range in 2014. At the same time, critical habitat was proposed: more than 421,000 acres for the northern Mexican garter snake and more than 210,000 acres for the narrow-headed garter snake. But neither one was finalized.

The Center claims the Fish and Wildlife Service ignored experts and shrunk the protected habitat areas by more than 90% from its original proposal.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to depend on, in the words of the law, 'the best available science,' and that’s a quotation, in order to provide the maps for the designation of what we call critical habitat," said Robin Silver, the Center's co-founder.

Silver claims these agencies are placating ranchers and developers instead of protecting the streams where the narrow-headed garter snake and the northern Mexican garter snake live. 

northern Mexican gartersnake
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Northern Mexican gartersnake

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