WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to add an additional 552 acres in King and Kern Counties, Calif. to land previously proposed for designation as critical habitat for the endangered Buena Vista Lake shrew.
If the proposal is adopted, a total of 5,182 acres would be designated for the shrew. The additions incorporate shrew populations near the towns of Semitropic and Lemoore that went undetected when the USFWS first proposed critical habitat for the shrew in 2009.
The Buena Vista Lake shrew is one of nine subspecies of ornate shrews native to California. The mouse-sized insectivores eat more than their own body weight in insects each day.
The shrews were added to the list of threatened and endangered species in 2002. Most of the species’ wetland habitat was drained and converted to agriculture before the shrew was discovered in 1932.
Even with protected habitat, the shrews are threatened by unhealthy concentrations of selenium in the insects they eat, the result of water being imported into the Tulare Basin to irrigate crops.
The public has until Sept. 10 to comment on the proposed critical habitat.