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For Immediate Release, April 16, 2008

Contact: Ileene Anderson, biologist, (323) 490-0223

Endangered San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat’s Habitat Slashed by Feds:
Diminutive Animal Hops Closer to Extinction

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed a dramatic reduction in habitat designated as critical for the survival of the charismatic and declining San Bernardino kangaroo rat. The proposal would designate a total of only 10,658 acres of habitat, a 68-percent reduction from the current designation of 33,295 acres.

“The Bush administration continues its relentless attack on endangered species,” said Ileene Anderson, biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Discarding 68 percent of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s habitat will only speed up this charming little animal’s slide to extinction.”

Just six years ago, the Fish and Wildlife Service had designated over 33,295 acres in four different areas of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Identified as four separate units, habitat critical to the animal’s survival was acknowledged on the Etiwanda Fan, Lytle, and Cajon Creek areas, the Santa Ana River and Wash in San Bernardino County, and on the San Jacinto River and Bautista Creek in Riverside County. In 2007 the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed cutting the critical habitat to a mere 9,079 acres, completely eliminating the Etiwanda Fan unit, and severely cutting the other three units. While today’s proposal returns 1,579 acres of habitat to the designation, it still results in a loss of 68 percent of designated critical habitat, all in areas where the kangaroo rat currently thrives.

“Why areas that the kangaroo rat currently flourishes in are not included in this proposal is mystifying,” she adds. “The purpose of critical habitat is to help plants and animals like the kangaroo rat recover to higher population levels. You don’t do that by getting rid of their homes.”

The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is a small, seed-eating animal with large hind legs that it uses to hop around on like a kangaroo, which is how it got its name. It lives along the banks of creeks and streams where it is helps to re-establish plants and habitat after floods by collecting and distributing seeds of local shrubs and flowers and trimming vegetation. It is found only in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, although it was much more widespread just 50 years ago. Much of its habitat has been developed so it has been relegated to the flood channels and adjacent banks of unchannelized streams.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t propose a habitat designation today; it proposed a roadmap for a species’ extinction,” summarized Anderson.


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