Center for Biological Diversity
Four subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher, a small, stocky rodent that lives only in Washington state, are the latest to get Endangered Species Act protection under the Center's landmark settlement requiring protection decisions for 757 species around the country.
There were once nine subspecies of the pocket gopher, but two went extinct waiting for protections -- the Tacoma and Cathlamet pocket gophers. The four subspecies now protected include the Olympia, Roy Prairie, Tenino and Yelm pocket gophers, whose rare Puget prairie home is severely threatened by rapid urban and agricultural sprawl. And unfortunately the feds have also enacted a "special rule" allowing some habitat demolition to go forward despite the animals' protection under the Act.
"With this decision the unique Mazama pocket gopher and its Puget prairie home have a fighting chance," said Noah Greenwald, the Center's endangered species director. "It's deeply disappointing, though, to have activities that clearly destroy these pocket gophers' homes -- like plowing -- categorically exempted from regulation."
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