Pikas Endangered?

Feds review the species to see if threat from global warming warrants Endangered Species listing
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Feds review the species to see if threat from global warming warrants Endangered Species listing

Poor, poor pikas—so very cute, and so very flammable. As we've noted before, climate change threatens to drive this species to extinction, either by shortening their eating season, altering the plants they eat, driving them off mountains, or simply frying them to death. That's right: Pikas often go terminal when temps go above 75 degrees.

But now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced they plan to review the species' status, with an eye towards adding them to the Endangered Species List. Between now and Feb. 10, 2010, USFWS scientists will research and monitor the little fuzzballs to see if in fact they are in more danger of biting it because of climate change. If they rule in the pikas' favor, they'll be the first animal in the Lower 48 officially declared endangered because of climate change.

"The service knows that climate change is real. It is the biggest conservation challenge of our time," said Diane Katzenberger, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Denver.

This is music to conservation groups, who've been campaigning on the pika's behalf for several years.

"The pika is the fire alarm and this is our opportunity to come to grips with global warming and prevent an extinction crisis," (Earthjustice attorney Greg) Loarie said.

Pikas live in the high mountain meadows and boulder fields of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Go check 'em out soon, before they spontaneously combust.

—Ted Alvarez

U.S. to see if tiny pika merits protection (MSNBC)

via The Goat