Endangered Pika 'Falling Off the Tops' of Mountains
The American Pika, Ochotona princeps, has been described by some biologists as 'falling off the tops' of the last remaining western set of mountains they call home. The Pika is a cold weather creature. Pika's have a rather thick fur coat and slow metabolisms, which is deadly at temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
To exist, the Pika needs the crisp cool air that has always been found in the elevated altitudes of the mountains. But what has been going on over the past century, is global warming has been creeping the temperatures up, leaving them with no choice but to keep climbing higher and higher to survive and prosper.
It is getting to the point where the Pika will have nowhere to go, so they will quite literally fall off the tops of their mountains into extinction. This has already been happening at an alarming rate in the Great Basin mountainous areas of Nevada and Oregon, as well as parts of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
This would be the sad ending to a rather sweet, gentle, and nurturing creature. Those who know the Pika, may or may not know that they are actually the distant cousin to the bunny. This is why they have sometimes also been referred to as the alpine bunny, rock rabbit or boulder bunny.
If you have never seen one, they can best be described as a tennis ball sized, round, chubby, puffy, round eared, ball of fur. They communicate with a high pitched squeak and spend their summers outside their homes collecting flowers and grass to survive the winter. Each Pika must collect somewhere in the range of 60 pounds of food to survive an entire winter. That's several garbage bags of food!
The Center for Biological Diversity has been busy in the attempt to put the Pika on the endangered species list with a petition that was started in 2007. This would make this little fluff ball, the very first animal to be officially protected on the list by what would be considered somewhat of an unnatural cause of extinction... accelerated global warming. There are actually several cold temperature animals who could use such protection.
There is indeed hope for the Pika. It has been speculated that they had a similar bout with extinction many years ago that they were able to overcome by adapting to other areas. They are running out of places to run, but if the current petition to protect them were to pass, the US government would have no choice but to ensure any future actions would not "jeopardize the continued existence" of the Pika.
In other words, a set of rules would go in place, whose main mission would be to hinder the greenhouse gases which are arguably the root source of the Pika's extinction. In effect, the little Pika might be able to save us all from global warming if we can get the government to take action!