WASHINGTON (CN) – The Stephens’ kangaroo rat will remain on the federal list of endangered and threatened species, according to a finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a 12-month species status review under the Endangered Species Act.
The rat has been on the endangered species list since 1988, but only a draft recovery plan was completed in 1997 and none of the benchmarks the agency identified for delisting the species have been accomplished.
The draft plan calls for the creation of at least five California ecosystem-based reserves totaling 16,500 acres in western Riverside County and two in San Diego County.
Farmers and land owners initiated a petition to delist the Stephens’ kangaroo rat, asserting that methodological errors in the petition to list the rat under the act flawed the listing decision.
According to the agency, the rat has a low rate of reproduction with only about three young per litter who survive in the wild on average between five and six months.
Females reach reproductive maturity around three months.
Habitat destruction is the main environmental pressure on the kangaroo rat as the low lying grasslands where it digs its burrows are being converted to agricultural and grazing land.