American Pika Advances Toward Endangered Species Act Protection
SAN FRANCISCO— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that it is launching a full status review to determine whether the American pika, a small, alpine-dwelling relative of the rabbit that is imperiled by global warming, warrants the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
The decision comes in response to a scientific petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity in October 2007 seeking protection for the species, followed by an August 2008 lawsuit against the Service for failing to respond to the petition.
As a result of today's decision, the pika will become the first mammal considered for protection under the Act due to global warming in the continental United States outside of Alaska. The Service’s decision comes under court order 16 months after the legal deadline. The Service is now required to decide whether the pika will be designated as an endangered species by February 1, 2010.
"We are pleased that the Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to take the pika's plight seriously," said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing the Center in the case. "The pika' shrinking habitat is a harbinger of what may happen to many species if we don’t address global warming now."