US Government Finds that Pika is "Not at Risk" from Climate Change

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The U.S. Government will publish on Tuesday (9 February 2010) in the Federal Register a decision to deny protection [PDF] to the pika under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In our posting  on 2 February 2010 (Pushed by Climate Change, American Pikas May Follow Polar Bears onto Endangered Species List ) we asked: “Will the American pika become the first species in the lower 48 states to be listed under the Endangered Species Act owing to climate change?”  The answer for now is "no" -- or at least "not yet."

American Pika

Under the finding, the FWS concludes that the pika "are not at risk from increased summer temperatures now or in the foreseeable future." It finally states:

"[W]e do not find that the American pika is in danger of extinction (endangered), nor is it likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened) throughout its range. As a result, we determine that listing the American pika at the species or subspecies level, as endangered or threatened under the Act is not warranted at this time."

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which had filed a lawsuit to compel the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider listing the Pika under the ESA, reacted angrily.  In a press release (Obama Administration Denies American Pika Endangered Species Act Protection), the Center's biologist Shaye Wolf said that “[s]cientific studies clearly show that the pika is disappearing from the American West due to climate change and needs the immediate protections of the Endangered Species Act to help prevent its extinction."

"We've already lost almost half of the pikas that once inhabited the Great Basin, and scientists tell us that pikas will be gone from 80 percent of their entire range in the United States by the end of century," said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Center. "To conclude that this species is not threatened by climate change is an impossible gamble that we can't afford."

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