Good news stories on ESA include whales, sea turtles, wolves, eagles, and butterflies. But for the American pika, well, not so good...
The last few days offered a rare series of good news stories on the Endangered Species Act. CNN reports that volunteers and retirees are watching the Florida coastline to help protect migrating endangered, but increasing, North Atlantic right whales. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that green sea turtles and hawksbills are making a comeback. Redding.com provides another anecdotal story about urban nesting bald eagles as proof of the species recovery and well-earned delisting. An editorial from reputable scientists in the Anchorage Daily News called the ESA "a good law that works in Alaska." An AP story in the Jamestown Sun offers a favorable perspective on wolf protections under the headline "Wolf experts dispel myths, foster understanding." And Softpedia discussed scientific papers finding that assisted colonization may be an option to help some species, like butterlfies, avoid extinction if global warming alters their existing habitat.
Of course, other stories of mixed or bad news appeared too. The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters reported that The alpine-dwelling American Pika could be the first species outside of Alaska listed as an endangered species because of global warming, with the Center for Biological Diversity ready to file a lawsuit if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not act soon. The San Francisco Chronicle, citing data from the Pacific Fishery Management Council, noted that "The smallest number of Pacific Ocean salmon ever recorded swam back to the Sacramento River via San Francisco Bay last fall." WMBB News 13 from Florida's Walton County reports that changes in the critical habitat for the flatwoods salamander could "slow traffic" by altering highway planning efforts. The Village News reports that California politicians in Sacramento asked Governor Schwarzenegger to call for a meeting of the Endangered Species Committee, aka the "God Squad", and their letter "requests an appeal of water restrictions on California as mandated by federal court rulings to protect the Delta smelt."
The American pika is an alpine species known as the "rock rabbit," and depends on group communication to spot predators. Highly sensitive to warm temperatures, the pika can’t survive in temperatures above 80 degrees. Photo from National Park Service.
And yes, more lawsuits were threatened, most notably by the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a petition with FWS to protect 42 spring snail species from Nevada, Utah, and California, alleging that "unsustainable groundwater pumping threatens" these species, and as well as "rural residents and future generations."