Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

SAVING THE SAN BERNARDINO KANGAROO RAT

Bouncing around on its giant hind feet, the seed-eating San Bernardino kangaroo rat is highly adapted to southwestern deserts and the natural flood cycles found there. Though the kangaroo rats require only the moisture in their food to survive, the triple threat of dams, sand and gravel mining, and urban sprawl has driven these charismatic critters to the brink of extinction. Kangaroo rats are known to use their hind feet to create their very own Morse code to send warning signals to fellow rats, and what greater danger is there than the imposing habitat destruction wreaking havoc across Southern California?

In 1999, the Center came bounding to the kangaroo rat’s aid with a lawsuit that eventually secured federal protections in the form of 33, 295 acres of critical habitat. But while a scientific review panel originally concluded that additional critical habitat should be designated for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under pressure from development and mining interests, has repeatedly attempted to undermine this furry desert dweller’s future by removing hard-won protections. In October 2008, the Service in fact slashed the species’ critical habitat by a shocking 76 percent. Three months later, we sued, and in 2010 a federal court invalidated that move and reinstated the scientifically valid decision to protect more than 33,000 acres.

Besides fighting for federally protected habitat for the rodent, the Center has also effectively litigated to provide the animal with permanent protection from urban sprawl. A lawsuit we filed resulted in 1,200 acres of quality kangaroo rat habitat being saved from development at Lytle Creek. The construction of a planned “mini-city” for this area would have jeopardized the species’ continued survival. We’ve also launched a lawsuit to save the species from a massive water-development project within the San Jacinto River channel, in the heart of the one of three remaining places in the world that support a viable population of San Bernardino kangaroo rats.

Get the latest on our work for biodiversity and learn how to help in our free weekly e-newsletter.

KEY DOCUMENTS
2008 Proposal slashing critical habitat
2002 Critical habitat designation
1998 Federal Endangered Species Act listing

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE

ACTION TIMELINE

NATURAL HISTORY

MEDIA
Press releases
Media highlights
Search our newsroom for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat

RELATED ISSUES
Deserts
Golden State Biodiversity Initiative
Mining
The Endangered Species Act

Contact: Ileene Anderson

Photo © Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles/California Academy of Sciences