Lawsuit filed to protect turtles

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two environmental groups have sued the Trump administration, saying it has failed to protect map turtles found in Mississippi and Louisiana under the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit calls for endangered or threatened status for the Pearl River map turtle, which is found in the Pearl River watershed in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Pascagoula map turtle, found only in part of Mississippi’s Pascagoula River system.

“These turtles are in steep decline and face major threats, yet the Trump administration is dragging its feet on protecting them,” attorney Jason Totoiu said in a news release Tuesday. “The two species are unique to just these two rivers, but they’re being driven to oblivion by trapping, pollution and reckless development, including yet another unnecessary dam proposed on the Pearl River.”

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the suit filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., against the U .S. Fish and Wildlife Service; its director, Aurelia Skipwith; and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.