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Local Group Helps Win Endangered Species Battle

Feb. 22, 2013—The island night lizard, a four-inch-long resident of the Channel Islands listed as “threatened” on the Endangered Species List, is thriving for the first time in decades, thanks in part to the Santa Cruz-based group Island Conservation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Feb. 1 its plans to remove the island night lizard from its current listing.

Island Conservation (IC) has been working to protect the critter since 2009 by removing feral cats from San Nicolas Island, off the Santa Barbara coast. Non-native goats, sheep and rabbits were also removed from the island, as well as neighboring San Clemente and Santa Barbara Islands. IC was aided in its efforts by the Navy and National Park Service.

Island Conservation has been protecting endangered species by eradicating non-native predators since it was formed in 1997 by local surfer-biologists Bernie Tershy and Don Croll. Mostly flying under the radar—possibly because their sometimes violent techniques are somewhat controversial—the team and their organization are the subject of a new book, Battle at the End of Eden, by veteran science writer Amanda R. Martinez.

In an excerpt published in the Atlantic last December, Martinez tells the gripping tale of how Tershy and Croll have led extraordinary campaigns that have “saved endangered animals on islands all over the globe.”

"Like a Delta Force for invasive-species removal, the scientists gather intelligence, craft elaborate plans of attack, and—when conditions are right—strike with traps, hunters, even helicopters that blanket islands with poison pellets. These orchestrated blitzkriegs can last for months or mere hours--and when they're complete, not a single rat, feral cat or goat remains."

Comments on the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to de-list the island night lizard can be submitted electronically at until April 5.

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