A loggerhead's life span can range from 30 years to 50 years or more

Loggerhead sea turtles must wait a bit longer to find out whether or not they will receive stronger protections under the Endangered Species Act.

More than a year after a proposal was filed to change the status of loggerheads from “threatened” to “endangered,” federal agencies charged with making the decision have announced they need an additional six months to analyze the data and come to an agreement.

According to this announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), the extension is needed because “substantial disagreement exists regarding the interpretation of the existing data on status and trends and its relevance to the assessment of risk of extinction…”

While these agencies mull their decision, loggerheads continue to struggle. As outlined in a recent report by National Wildlife Federation, Florida Wildlife Federation, and Sea Turtle Conservancy, sea turtles are beleaguered by an array of stressors related to human activities, including:

  • Loss of habitat
  • Beach armoring
  • Artificial lighting
  • Harmful fishing practices
  • Marine pollution and debris
  • Oil spills
  • Global warming

Given their generally decreasing nesting numbers, National Wildlife Federation has strongly supported the effort to reclassify loggerhead sea turtles as endangered. In addition to submitting our own comments to NMFS and FWS last year, we asked our wildlife advocates to voice their support as well. Together, we generated more than 21,000 public comments in support of stronger protections for loggerhead sea turtles.

For those who missed the chance to take action on behalf of these amazing animals, it is not too late. The public comment period has been reopened until April 11, 2011. If you have not done so already, please take the time to speak up in support of stronger protections for loggerhead sea turtles.