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Groups sue government over habitat for turtles

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SAN FRANCISCO » Conservation groups are suing federal wildlife and fisheries officials, claiming the government missed a legally mandated deadline to create protection zones for endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

The coalition filed its complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleging the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed a one-year Endangered Species Act deadline to create so-called critical habitat for loggerheads.

The 250-pound turtles in both the Pacific and Northeast Atlantic oceans were listed as endangered in 2011.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups claim that even with endangered status, loggerheads still die off the California, Hawaii and Florida coasts, often because of commercial fishing.

NMFS spokesman Jim Milbury said he could not comment on an active lawsuit.

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