The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying whether pikas — fuzzy little cousins of the rabbit that prefer chilly temps and high altitudes — need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Environmentalists are concerned that warming global temperatures will push pikas higher and higher, eventually eliminating their habitats altogether. (Temperatures above 78 degrees can kill the squeaky little critters.)
In Colorado, pikas are easy to find on the slopes of the state’s many fourteeners, but scientists are concerned about their futures. Rsearchers have recently been studying the pika populations in Rocky Mountain National Park, trying to figure out how many of the animals live there now so they can better understand how those populations are affected as the climate changes.
Historical baseline data for number of pikas in the park don’t exist.
“The way it was, there were so many pikas no one thought to count them,” said Judy Visty, park ecologist.
Scientists in the North Cascades National Park are starting a one-year study that is also aimed at establishing a baseline count of pika populations. Read more