- Associated Press - Sunday, October 5, 2014

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A petition seeking to protect a little-known lizard that makes its home in large portions of an area leading the way in the new Texas oil boom remains in limbo.

An environmental group has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the spot-tailed earless lizard as an endangered or threatened species, the San Antonio Express-News (https://bit.ly/1vEhf8o ) reported.

The rare lizard’s likely habitat includes large swaths of the Eagle Ford Shale formations, the prolific oil and gas field in South Texas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 said there was substantial information that listing the spot-tailed earless lizard as endangered or threatened might be warranted. It’s the first step in what can be a yearslong process to list a species, but it doesn’t mean the lizard will ultimately receive any listing.

Austin attorney Alan Glen, who specializes in environmental law, says attention on the plight of the lizard has been “something of a sleeping issue.”



Much of the public’s attention to potential endangered species in Texas has zeroed in on a bird - the lesser prairie chicken. In March, the federal government listed the bird as threatened.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said the listing is justified by a steep decline in the bird’s numbers in recent years. The five states affected - Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas - had fewer than 18,000 in 2013, down almost 50 percent from 2012.

The decision on the bird could affect agriculture, oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in the five states.

Glen said people have not been as focused on the lizard, but added that it “would be as big a deal as the prairie chicken” if it gets similar protection.

“It clearly would conflict with the Eagle Ford Shale,” Glen said.

The Eagle Ford is rapidly approaching the 1 million barrels-per-day mark for crude oil production.

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, https://www.mysanantonio.com

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