Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Still Endangered

Aug 18, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2010

Contact: Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office – 760/431-9440 ext. 205

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Still Endangered

CARSLSBAD, CALIF. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it has completed a 12-month finding on a petition to delist Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi). After a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that delisting the Stephens’ kangaroo rat is not warranted at this time.

The 12-month finding can be viewed online today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Page.  It will also be posted on www.regulations.gov, as Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2010-0052.

The status review was initiated after the Service received two petitions to delist the species. The first petition was submitted in 1995, followed by a second petition in 2002. Both petitions included assertions that the discovery of new populations of the Stephens’ kangaroo rat and the completion of several Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) indicate the species no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Although the intensity and magnitude of habitat loss from development has greatly diminished through implementation of HCPs, there are additional populations of the species that are not conserved and remain at risk.

Intensive management of some of the reserve areas that support populations of the Stephens’ kangaroo rat is needed to maintain the habitat for the species. However, recent surveys on some of these reserve areas indicate the amount of occupied habitat has decreased over time. This may indicate current management strategies are not adequate and further monitoring is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the ongoing conservation efforts.

Stephens’ kangaroo rats are nocturnal, burrow-dwellers that feed primarily on seeds. This species has a relatively large head with external fur-lined cheek pouches that it uses to transport seeds to safe caches. Stephens’ kangaroo rats have large, elongated hind legs used for jumping. They are currently known to exist in portions of western Riverside County, and parts of northern and central San Diego County.

- FWS -