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Feds say the Mohave ground squirrel may face extinction

Rapid loss of habitat from city sprawl, agriculture and OHV use in the Mojave desert largely to blame

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By: Defenders of Wildlife

mojave_ground_squirrel.jpg
SACRAMENTO, April 27, 2010 - The following is a statement from Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife's California program director:

"The Mohave ground squirrel has been in trouble for a long time. Over the past 60 years suburban sprawl and other intensive uses in the Mojave Desert, including new roads, parking lots, shopping malls, off-highway vehicle recreation, agriculture and grazing, have destroyed habitat that's crucial for the Mohave ground squirrel's survival.

"The Mohave ground squirrel has been listed as a threatened species by California for nearly 40 years. And we're glad that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is prepared to take a closer look at the desert mammal's plight and may consider it for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. This is particularly important since much of its habitat is managed by the federal government.

"While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the word desert, the Mojave is teeming with some of the planet's most remarkable plants and wildlife. The Mohave ground squirrel is just one of many unique animals that can be found nowhere else in the world.

"The plight of the Mohave ground squirrel is not hopeless. Good planning and protection efforts for important remaining habitat areas can prevent its extinction and help the ground squirrel to recover to healthy numbers. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is an excellent way to move forward with smart development in the Mojave, while still conserving the desert's most vulnerable species, like the Mohave ground squirrel. This plan is a collaborative conservation effort by local, state and federal agencies, conservation groups and renewable-energy developers to identify important places in the desert to protect for conservation of desert wildlife, and areas in the desert that are suitable for renewable energy development."

* The Mohave ground squirrel's survival is most threatened by loss of habitat due to urban and suburban sprawl, rural development, agriculture, military activities, livestock grazing and off-highway vehicle use

* The Mohave ground squirrel shares its habitat with hundreds of desert plants and animals, including other at-risk species, such as the desert tortoise, burrowing owl, LeConte's thrasher and the Barstow wolly sunflower

* The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reached this decision after the Bush administration delayed reviewing the Mohave ground squirrel's status for four years, despite an Endangered Species Act requirement that listing petitions be reviewed within 90 days of filing

Links:
Read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announcement:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-9377.htm

Learn more about Mohave ground squirrels:
http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/mohave_ground_squirrel.php

 

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