Emergency Endangered Species Protection Sought to Save Florida’s Miami Tiger Beetle From Shopping Mall, Theme Park

Development Would Destroy Beetle’s Only Known Habitat

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—(ENEWSPF)–December 11, 2014.  The Center for Biological Diversity today filed emergency petitions to protect an extremely rare, beautiful beetle, found only in the pine rocklands of South Florida, as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and as a protected species under Florida law.  

Miami tiger beetle
Miami tiger beetle photo © Chris Wirth.

“This amazing, gem-like creature, once thought to be extinct, was only recently rediscovered,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director and staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now the only place on Earth it’s known to occupy is threatened with a shopping mall featuring a Walmart and yet another Florida theme park.”

Miami tiger beetles were presumed extinct until recent surveys detected individuals at three sites in the Richmond pine rocklands in Miami-Dade County. One of the rarest habitats in the United States, pine rocklands are characterized by limestone outcroppings and canopies of Florida slash pine. Unchecked urban and agricultural development has destroyed all but 2 percent of these rare and beautiful habitats.

The Miami tiger beetle has a shiny-green shell that sometimes appears copper colored. Tiger beetles are so named for their aggressive predatory behavior, strong mandibles and fast running speed. Several other endangered species are found in the beetle’s habitat, including the Florida bonneted bat, Carter’s small-flowered flax, Florida brickell-bush, Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly, Florida leafwing butterfly, deltoid spurge and tiny polgala. 

Even before the last of the Miami tiger beetle’s habitat became threatened by the planned shopping mall and theme park, it was recognized as a species of concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Service has 90 days to respond to today’s petition.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: www.biologicaldiversity.org