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August 21, 2014

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Amargosa toad protection sought in lawsuit

The Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sent a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of the Interior to force the agency to protect the Amargosa toad.

The two environmental organizations initially sent a petition seeking protection under the Endangered Species Act for the toad on Feb. 26, 2008, but received no response, they said in the notice.

The Amargosa toad is found solely in Nevada and is at imminent risk of extinction, the notice says.

The 2008 notice triggered a deadline for the department to make a required 90-day finding on the petition. The department has further violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to issue a 12-month finding for the species, the notice of intent says.

"The Amargosa toad is a delicate desert amphibian threatened by livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, water withdrawals and other development in the Amargosa River system," said Rob Mrowka, ecologist and conservation advocate with the center. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to violate the Endangered Species Act by failing to review and issue a finding on our petition to protect it."

The entire known geographic range of the Amargosa toad is restricted to wet areas, springs and desert uplands in a 10-mile stretch of the Amargosa River west of the Spring Mountains from Las Vegas.

Fewer than 20 breeding toads have been found near the Amargosa River and surrounding springs in Bullfrog Hills in the Oasis Valley in Nye County. The remaining habitat contains 8,440 acres of wet habitat and uplands that face imminent decline due to numerous impacts.

In addition, non-native species and disturbance from urban and recreational development threaten the toad.

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