Protections rejected for American pika, other species

Posted at 10:07 AM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 13:07:36-04

Federal officials have rejected a petition to give greater protections to the rabbit-like American pika, which researchers say is vanishing from mountainous areas of the West due to climate change.

But officials say petitions for four species merit further review, including the Florida scrub lizard and Joshua trees of Arizona, California, Utah and Nevada.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Brian Hires said Tuesday that the agency did not consider a recent U.S. Geological Survey study that determined the pika's range is shrinking.

Hires says the study was not available when a petition was submitted in April to protect the animal under the Endangered Species Act.

Officials also rejected petitions to protect the Wyoming pocket gopher, two species of Alaskan birds, a Caribbean iguana and a salamander found in Arkansas.