WASHINGTON (CN) -The white-sided jackrabbit, whose ears grow to an enormous six inches long, does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to a finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency’s yearlong review was in response to a 2008 petition by the WildEarth Guardians to list the jackrabbit as threatened or endangered. The white-sided jackrabbit is known in only two valleys in New Mexico but is wide-spread throughout Mexico.
The mostly nocturnal jackrabbit was first sighted in New Mexico in 1895. The species is very difficult to count, and most population surveys are conducted by driving through the desert at night with a bright spotlight that causes the animals to freeze momentarily.
According to the petition, white-sided jackrabbits are most threatened by the loss of their preferred habitat-grassy desert plants-to cattle grazing and fire suppression efforts.
New Mexico listed the jackrabbit as endangered in 1975, and the agency found that listing the rodent under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted at this time because the petitioner did not show that current conservation efforts under New Mexico’s mandate are inadequate. The agency also did not find sufficient data on population trends to determine that the numbers of U.S. white-sided jackrabbits have declined.