(WGHP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday that it would consider protecting the southern population of the imperiled bog turtle under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency now has one year to make a decision about protecting the turtle, which can be found in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The bog turtle is the smallest turtle found in North America. It measures roughly the length of a human thumb.
Over the last 20 years, the southern population has declined by around 50%, and fewer than 2,000 bog turtles remain.
There are northern and southern populations of bog turtle, and the northern population was listed as threatened in 1997 under federal law. The southern population was not listed as threatened, and its numbers have significantly decreased in the last 25 years.