For Immediate Release
Endangered San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat Hops Closer to Extinction:
Habitat Slashed by Feds
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today finalized a dramatic
reduction in habitat designated as critical for the survival of the
charismatic and declining San Bernardino kangaroo rat.
The proposal would designate a total of only 7,779 acres of habitat, a
76-percent reduction from the current designation of 33,295 acres.
"The Bush administration has escalated its relentless attack on
endangered species in its waning days," said Ileene Anderson, a
biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Discarding over
three-quarters of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat's habitat will
accelerate this charming little animal's slide to extinction. The
science simply does not support this absurd designation."
Just six years ago, the Fish and Wildlife Service had designated more
than 33,295 acres in four different areas of San Bernardino and
Riverside counties. Identified as four separate units, habitat critical
to the animal's survival was acknowledged on the Etiwanda Fan, Lytle,
and Cajon Creek areas, the Santa Ana River and Wash in San Bernardino
County, and on the San Jacinto River and Bautista Creek in Riverside
County. In 2007 the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed cutting the
critical habitat to a mere 9,079 acres, completely eliminating the
Etiwanda Fan unit and severely cutting the other three units. In April
of 2008, the proposal was increased to 10,658 acres. Today's final
designation further reduces the acres of habitat to the designation,
simply eliminating tens of thousands of acres of habitat where the
pocket-sized kangaroo rat currently lives.
logical rationale explains why these areas have been cut from the
designation - areas in which the kangaroo rat currently flourishes,"
Anderson adds. "The purpose of critical habitat is to help animals like
the kangaroo rat recover to higher population levels. You don't do that
by getting rid of three-quarters of their existing home."
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is not a true rat but a small,
seed-eating animal with large hind legs that it uses to hop around on
like a kangaroo, which is how it got its name. It lives along the banks
of creeks and dry streams where it is helps to re-establish plants and
habitat after floods by collecting and distributing seeds of local
shrubs and flowers and trimming vegetation. It is found only in
Riverside and San Bernardino counties, although it was much more
widespread just 50 years ago. Its habitat has recently been prime
target for big-box warehouse development, so it has been relegated to
the flood channels and adjacent banks of unchannelized streams.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service provided a roadmap for the San
Bernardino kangaroo rat's extinction today - completely abdicating its
responsibility to protect and recover this rare animal's populations,"
summarized Anderson. "However, all the science is on the k-rat's side,
and we intend to challenge the agency over this absurd designation."