Conservation groups, alarmed at the decline in the pygmy rabbit, petitioned USFWS way back in 2003 that it be added to the endangered species list. In March 2006, the USFWS rejected their petition as “not warranted.” That is ESA legal language for “not needed.”
Western Watersheds Project, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Native Ecosystems, Oregon Natural Deserts Association, and the Sagebrush Sea Project took them to federal court which overturned the Service and told them to look at it again. Now USFWS has announced they will do a Status Review (the second ESA step in a listing). It is a detailed analysis of the actual status and condition of the species, and is not supposed to be influenced by politics or economics.
Petitioners to list the pygmy rabbit issued this news release Jan. 8 after the good news
For Immediate Release
January 8, 2008
Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 871-5738
Todd Tucci, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024
Duane Short, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, (307) 742-7978 or (270) 366-3415
Jacob Smith, Center for Native Ecosystems, (303) 546-0214
Bill Marlett, Oregon Natural Desert Association, (541) 330-2638
Mark Salvo, Sagebrush Sea Campaign, (503) 757-4221
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Announces Positive ESA Finding for Pygmy Rabbit
On January 8th U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a positive 90-day finding on a petition to list the pygmy rabbit as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
In April 2003, conservation groups and concerned citizens submitted a formal petition to list the rare and unique pygmy rabbit as threatened or endangered and to have critical habitat designated for its protection. The Service initially found the rabbit not warranted to be listed on the basis that scientific or commercial information presented by the petitioners was insufficient. In March 2006 Western Watersheds Project, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Native Ecosystems, Oregon Natural Deserts Association, and the Sagebrush Sea Project filed suit to challenge the Services 90-day finding.