Pika decision could have far-reaching effects

Could be the first animal listed as threatened or endangered because of climate change

Pika © Ken Cole

Decision expected tomorrow.

Two previous stories on the pika listing process:

Formal Protection For Pika Due To Climate Change
May 7, 2009

U.S. agrees to consider protections for pikas
February 15, 2009

Pika decision could have far-reaching effects
By MIKE STARK – Associated Press Writer

Update 2/4/10: Federal agency denies protections for tiny pika






  1. Virginia Avatar

    More good news! In my opinion of course.

  2. JimT, Boulder Colorado Avatar
    JimT, Boulder Colorado

    Some biological information about the pika from Defenders. Unfortunately, the deep, high snows may disappear before any kind of species adaptation can take place naturally. If the listing can help link ESA protections and climate change, it can only help.

    Here’s the link


  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    Keep in mind, I think only pikas in the small, isolated populations of the Great Basin are being considered.

  4. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    Lets hope that the Pika does not become a Polar Bear.

  5. JimT, Boulder Colorado Avatar
    JimT, Boulder Colorado

    I believe the DOW office in Bozeman has the lead on the pika program, so contact them directly if you need more information.

  6. Brian Ertz Avatar

    looks like a rat to me

  7. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    He’s cute I hope it works for animals and climate change.

  8. WildPhotos Avatar

    They look like the baby rabbits I’ve got right now.
    How long before they can be considered again?

  9. Percy Avatar

    That’s sad they were denied. I know some populations that are so isolated in the Great Basin 🙁

  10. mikepost Avatar

    Speculative listings that are not based upon sound scientific descriptions of actual long term impacts on the specific populations are at the heart of why many people fight the ESA across the board. While I would not dispute the phenomina of climate change, that water has been so muddied by bogus claims on both sides that it is hardly adequate sole justification for projecting future declines of a specific species in a specific place long before the numbers show any long term (not cyclical) decline.

  11. JimT Avatar


    We will save the climate change discussion for another time.

    What I focused on in your post was the term “speculative listings.” It brings up the battle in the science arena between 100% certainty before one acts, and the philosophy that one acts when one sees a definite, provable trend in order to reduce or eliminate harm. This ongoing tension often gets used politically to justify action or inaction, ignoring the complexities of science and the realities of what is actually happening in the natural world with which the science is concerned.

    100% certainty is a myth in science. Those who say that is the go-no-go decision point for these kinds of decisions are merely using science as a tool in achieving a different agenda..profit, status quo, power.

    So, given this, when does one decide to act?

  12. mikepost Avatar

    JimT: OK, I will accept “perponderance of evidence” but then there has to be evidence. I am not aware of any documentation of any long term non-cyclical decline of the Pica as required for an ESA listing. I am sure thats why it did not happen. Perhaps that will change, I am open for that. There is a finite amount of resources that can be thrown at saving/mitigating endangered species and giving every critter that might be in danger a dollar means that the really hard hit critters dont get taken care of. I would cite the $40 million plus spent (so far) on the condor as a good example of this kind of misguided effort.

  13. Cobra Avatar

    I really wonder about this one. We have lots of these little guys on the mountain up behind the house. They frequent the rockslides from around 3800 feet in elevation up to the top which is around 5500 feet. I get a real kick out of watching and hearing them when we’re up there picking huckleberries and big game hunting. If anything there seemed to be more last year than the year before. Either way there still a kick in the pants to just sit and watch, better than t.v. anyday.

  14. JimT, Boulder Avatar
    JimT, Boulder

    Thanks, Ken, for the link and the interesting map.

    MP, it may be too late for the pica, even if it is on the list, given the forecasts for the effects of global warming on snowpack will continue pretty much unabated even if we stopped loading carbon today and current levels were maintained. I think Bruce Hamilton’s effort at adaptation and habitat at the Sierra Club is a worthy strategy to address situations like this.

    There is evidence of localized populations on the brink, but we can differ on whether or not that brings the species to the level of listing as threatened or endangered. I think it is a good thing to keep pressure on DOI regardless of the administration; it is too damned easy to forget the animals and plants in this myopic pursuit of more energy as the major environmental concern.

    And, of course, the larger fight is the impact of considering climate change as part of the ESA..that is the REAL 800 lb pound gorilla in the room. For me, it is a no brainer. But for some..it is problematic and a stretch.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole