A lawsuit accuses the government of dragging its feet on deciding whether alligator snapping turtles and eight other species around the country need federal protection.
The Center for Biological Diversity says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed decision deadlines for species including the California spotted owl, a cat-sized hunting mammal called the Northern Rockies fisher, and an Alabama mussel called the Canoe Creek pigtoe.
The hard-biting, spike-studded alligator snapping turtle is the largest of the species, growing more than 2 feet long and weighing up to 175 pounds.
As part of a settlement in another federal lawsuit, the environmental nonprofit agreed in 2011 to demand decisions for only 10 species each year. It sued for the monarch butterfly earlier this month, so it has now hit that limit.