For a decade or so now, a war's been raging in southern Utah. Once again, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle has made the list of candidates for federal listing as an endangered species. Should the beetle make the cut to the list of protected species, it could mean a ban on off-road vehicles in the dunes this rare insect calls home.
The Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle, found only in a small area in southern Utah, is a candidate for federal endangered species protection.
Photo: US Bureau of Land Management
The Coral Sand Dunes tiger beetle, Cicindela albissima, lives in only one place - Coral Sand Dunes State Park in Kane County, Utah. The entire population of this predacious beetle - which could be as few as 800 total - lives on about 400 hectares of the park's sand dunes. The beetle habitat stands right smack in the way of the weekend recreation crowd, who flock to the park with their ORV's in tow.
Biologists argue that a single catastrophic event could wipe the Coral Sand Dunes tiger beetle off the map in one fell swoop. Environmentalists hope the feds will, at long last, grant the beetles protection. ORV riders claim that they'll be the only party negatively affected by any conservation efforts on the bug's behalf.
We've known for a long time that this beetle is rare, and it's demise could be closer than we think. It's time to put wildlife first, and get serious about protecting the Coral Sand Dunes tiger beetle.