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Still, that didn’t make the process any easier.

“You would think that it would be a quick process, but it’s not. We have to look at whatever citations are provided. We spent an enormous amount of time just trying to find the citations,” she said.

One example was a tiger moth, listed as Arctia sp. 1, with no common name or species name.

“The NatureServe file for this species only states that it is found in Colorado. The file provides no references,” according to the Feb. 5 Federal Register report.

Ms. Rosmarino argued that the information provided by NatureServe was “thoroughly researched” and included hundreds of citations.

She also pointed out that NatureServe has been recognized by the Fish and Wildlife Service as “a source for authoritative conservation information,” according to the agency’s Web site.

WildEarth Guardians petitioned on behalf of species considered “critically imperiled” or “imperiled” by NatureServe, she said.

“Fish and Wildlife says on its Web site that it considers NatureServe authoritative, so we said, ‘We’re going to proceed with a source you find authoritative,’ ” Ms. Rosmarino said.

Kent Holsinger, a Denver lawyer specializing in wildlife and property issues, noted that the NatureServe Web site includes the disclaimer “All documents and related graphics … are provided ‘as is’ without warranty as to its currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data.”

“If the petitioners are relying on NatureServe, and NatureServe says don’t rely on the data, I would argue that every species ought to have some independent, verifiable data, or shouldn’t be considered,” Mr. Holsinger said.

Could petitioning on behalf of hundreds of species at a time become a trend? The agency clearly hopes not.

“We’re very concerned,” Ms. Carlson said. “I’m not sure what they’re thinking, but we’ve tried to convince them this is not a productive way to get species listed.”