UPDATE: Federal fish & wildlife authorities have decided to proceed with a full review of the American pika, for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. The US Fish & Wildlife Service will formally publish its decision this week, including this summary:
“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the American pika (Ochotona princeps) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing of the American pika may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the species, and we will issue a 12-month finding to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial data regarding this species. We will make a determination on critical habitat for this species if, and when, we initiate a listing action.”
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) first petitioned for listing in 2007, and then followed with a lawsuit a year later, when federal authorities shelved the request.
The significance of this week’s decision, according to a CBD news release, is that “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.”
Last month a San Francisco court ruled that state wildlife officials wrongly denied the CBD’s petition for listing under California’s ESA. So it looks like the little critter will get a fresh review at both the state and federal levels.