WASHINGTON (CN) – Wright’s marsh thistle is endangered by water diversion, habitat loss and degradation through livestock grazing, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency has determined that protection under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, but precluded by previous listing decisions.
Wright’s marsh thistle is in the sunflower family, growing up to eight feet tall with pale to bright pink flowers. The range of the thistle was once from Chihuahua, Mexico across Arizona and New Mexico. Now it is believed to exist only in eight places, four of the eight within ten miles of each other on the western slope of the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County, New Mexico.
In addition to threats from water diversion and habitat loss, Wright’s marsh thistle also is threatened by severe drought and the resulting ground water depletion that has dried the marshy soil the thistle grows in.
The agency has given the thistle a listing priority number of eight and added it to the candidate species list, indicating a moderate but imminent threat to the existence of the species relative to other species determined to warrant protection under the act.