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Feds Won't Protect Pika From Climate Change

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
05 February 2010, 2:55 PM
Fish and Wildlife agency leaves tiny creature to fend for itself

<Update: Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie said he is contemplating challenging the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the pika>. Warming temperatures have sent the tiny pika scrambling for its life to the nation's highest peaks—but, it may take the nation's courts to save it.

Yesterday (Feb. 4), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to wrap the pika in the protections of the Endangered Species Act, even though it has been driven from most of its historic range by climate change-linked conditions and clings to existence in the cooler air of mountain tops.

It took an Earthjustice lawsuit to make FWS even look at the pika's plight. Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie reacted to the agency's decision:

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

Well done! Thank you very much for professional templates and community edition

I recently learned at a meeting in Oregon that there are pika in the Columbia Gorge living at much lower levels than the pika I first fell in love with at high elevations in Colorado. My husband (a biologist) and I have joked about working on cross breeding pikas as a job for when we retire (and/or working to save pygmy rabbits, possibly the cutest creature on earth), but I don't think that our ideas are a joke at all. Hopefully some of the biologists (who are saints in my book) and who are already experienced lagomorph scientists - are already thinking about similar plans to diversify the genetics of pika. I know that it is manipulative, but we already have done such things to save condors, ferrets, cheetahs, tigers etc., etc. I don't like saving animals in zoos, but in for some spp that is the only hope. Ideally, saving habitat and captive breeding programs based on re-introduction into the wild are preferred, but with climate change issues, REALLY creative thinking has to take place.

While the pika is generally more likely to score points on the cuteness scale, it's much less at risk than a number of mountaintop snails-the snails are much less able to move in response to climate change and are often confined to a single area, whereas the pika is relatively widespread. Thus, the pika serves as a potential flagship species for several less conspicuous associated species at risk.

We do not need to say why the pika or any other animal needs to be saved. The clear fact that they are here proves that there is a reason they are here. They were here before humans and should be here when/if humans are not. We need to take care of all living beings because it is the right thing to do. This is enough to protect them. We don't try to save things that are already gone, right.

Whenever we stress the importance of the loss of a creature from the face of this earth, it would behoove us to site the role it plays in the scheme of nature? As an animal advocate, I do not need to know a specific, scientific reason to protect the existence of any species. I am a tree and animal hugger. But some less sensitive persons might be more persuaded if they understood the individual contribution of the pika in our related existence.

Lindell Vecchio

Yes, yes, yes, to the comment of Lindell Vecchio. Just because it is an animal, sharing this, as yet, wonderful planet with us, is a good enough reason for me to want to keep it here. I do not want an earth teeming with humans, cockroaches and concrete, I want a planet teeming with the rich and varied wildlife, plants, streams and forests. (you can throw in the tree- and animals huggers, too. Money-makers, at the cost of the earth, you're not welcome!!. Elsa Stahl.

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