Mount Rainier ptarmigan nominated for endangered listing
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list a bird found in the North Cascades as threatened under the Endangered Species Act due to the likelihood that climate change will reduce its high elevation habitat statewide.
The Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan is found in the Cascade Mountains from southern British Columbia to southern Washington state, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. They are one of the few animals that spend their entire lives on top of mountains. They move seasonally between snow-covered habitat and summer alpine meadows.
As temperatures continue to warm, the region’s snowpack will decrease. Alpine meadows may also be at risk as conditions shift tree lines to higher elevations.
“As Washington’s iconic alpine meadows shrink with climate change, this alpine bird (…) will be pushed out of the house it is specially adapted to,” said Andrew LaValle, spokesperson for US Fish and Wildlife .
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The state’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife ranks the Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan as a species of most concern and highly vulnerable to climate change.
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal includes rules to protect birds from both intentional and unintentional types of damage, and states that a recovery plan for the species will be drafted once the listing becomes official.