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Group Bristles for Thistle

ALBUQUERQUE (CN) - WildEarth Guardians wants the government to list a rare wetlands-dependent thistle as endangered or threatened. The federal complaint for the Wright's marsh thistle is part of "Wildflower Week" in the group's "BioBlitz" endangered species campaign.

The white-to-pink flowered thistle has declined due to water diversion from the New Mexico wetland habitats upon which it depends. Drought exacerbates the threat to remaining areas, the group says, and climate change is likely to worsen drought conditions.

WildEarth Guardians filed a petition to list the thistle in October 2008; a settlement led to the government issuing a positive 90-day finding nearly a year later. The current lawsuit seeks to compel a 12-month finding, which the feds still haven't done, the group says.

The BioBlitz campaign runs for 8 weeks and celebrates the 36th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, including one petition or lawsuit per day for imperiled species for 36 workdays.

The thistle is one of the few of its genus that grows only in boggy soil, and is found in only three New Mexico counties. Beetles introduced as biological control for more robust thistles also threaten it.

Samantha Ruscavage-Barz in Placitas, N.M., represents the group and the thistle.

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