Group Wants Protection for SoCal Squirrel

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Environmentalists say they want the San Bernardino flying squirrel, a nocturnal glider native to Southern California mountains, listed as an endangered species.

A petition filed last week with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, is seen as another attempt to combat global warming through the Endangered Species Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Environmentalists consider the Endangered Species Act a weapon to force regulation of coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities that spew carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases causing climate change, the newspaper said. The petition comes after the federal government granted protected status to the polar bear in 2008 based on shrinking ice sheets caused by climate change.

Under the Endangered Species Act, activists say, the government is obligated to protect threatened forms of life and, arguably, could accomplish this by putting curbs on greenhouse gases, even from sources outside a species’ local habitat.

In addition to the request for protection of the flying squirrel, the center filed petitions asking protection on climate change grounds for the ‘I’iwi, a Hawaiian songbird; the white-tailed ptarmigan, a grouse-like bird of the Rocky Mountains; and Bicknell’s thrush, a northeastern U.S. songbird.

“Climate change will have disproportionate impacts on species that live at high elevations,” Noah Greenwald, the center’s endangered species program director, said. “These four species are literally going to be pushed off the top of the mountain.”

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Categorized | Coal, Fish, Other
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