Friday, August 14, 2009

Endangered Due To Climate Change

We won't have a decision until early next year, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife may list the American pika as the first animal in the continental U.S. listed under the Endangered Species Act because of climate change. The Center for Biological Diversity filed the petition to list the pika.

Pikas are a relative of the rabbit and live in the mountain of the eastern United States. These small chinchilla-like animals, with short limbs, have rounded ears, and short tails. Pikas are also called rock rabbits, coneys and the "whistling hare" (due to its high-pitched alarm call when diving into its burrow).

Researchers say warmer temperatures are putting it at risk for extinction.

Pikas are very territorial - a trait that may be lead to their disappearance. While many species respond to climate change in their habitat by migrating, pikas seem to remain and are dying off.

Changes due to global warming often have results that may seem illogical to the public. For example, the warming of the oceans can lead to more severe winter sorms and snow in some areas. For pikas, the warming on their mountain habitat has reduced the snowpack which the animals rely upon for shelter from freezing winds. So, a warmer climate may cause them to freeze.

Further, in summer, they not be able to gather sufficient food (cut grass and flowers to make hay) for the winter.

The possible listing of the pika has industries that emit greenhouse gases worried. Their listing could motivate policy developments and restrictions.

General information about pikas