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Pika does not get endangered species protection

By David A. Fahrenthold

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday evening that it would not grant the American pika -- a tiny mammal whose mountainside habitat is being threatened by climate change -- protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The pika, a hamster-like creature that dwells among rocks, has been cited by environmental groups as one of the North American mammals most vulnerable to warming temperatures. It cannot tolerate even mild heat, the groups say, and so may be pushed further and further up mountains as temperatures warm below.

But the Fish and Wildlife Service said studies showed that most pikas would be able to tolerate the temperature increases predicted up to the year 2050. Animals living in some lower-elevation population might die, the service found. But an adequate number of others live on mountains which will not warm enough to harm them significantly.

The groups Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity, which supported giving the pika new protections, denounced the decision. In a statement, Earthjustice lawyer Greg Loarie called the move a "gamble we can't afford," because it placed the pika at risk of extinction.

By

David A. Fahrenthold

 |  February 4, 2010; 9:03 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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