U.S. agrees to propose protected habitats for endangered sea turtles

May 3, 2013 at 7:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Conservationists say U.S. officials have agreed to identify suitable nesting and migratory habitat for endangered loggerhead sea turtles within two months.

Under an agreement reached between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Oceana, the federal agency has until July 1 to propose protected feeding, breeding and migratory habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. waters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

After review and public comment, the final critical habitat protections must be in place by July 1, 2014.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protections in March for more than 700 miles of nesting beaches for loggerhead sea turtles from North Carolina to Mississippi, representing around 84 percent of the endangered species' known nesting areas.

"Protecting sea turtle nesting habitat will not only help sea turtles but everyone who enjoys clean and healthy beaches along the Gulf Coast," said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Everyone loves seeing sea turtles, and protecting critical habitat means good management for our shores and a safer future for these incredible animals."

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