Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pika gets new review as possible at-risk species

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 2B

The American pika, a tiny rabbit-like resident of the Sierra Nevada, will get another shot at the state Endangered Species Act.

On Thursday, the state Fish and Game Commission ordered a review of the pika's status in response to a San Francisco Superior Court ruling that found the Department of Fish and Game failed to consider new information in a review completed last fall.

This came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, which first petitioned the state to protect the pika in 2007.

The pika lives only in high-elevation boulder fields. In other states, evidence shows climate change has shrunk pika habitat, resulting in smaller populations.

Until recently, California has lacked similar evidence.

But the Center for Biological Diversity last summer submitted new findings of pika population losses in the Bodie and Lassen regions.

In a subsequent suit, the center claimed that state officials had failed to consider this, and the court agreed, said Greg Loarie, an attorney at Earthjustice who represented the center.

Fish and Game has 90 days to complete a new review.

If protected, pika would become the first California species listed under the state Endangered Species Act as a result of climate change.

– Matt Weiser


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