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Three rare species found in Nevada may warrant endangered species protections

Conservationists are closely watching three rare species in Nevada that may qualify for special protections under the Endangered Species Act. These species, a flower, a toad, and a rabbit, are all under threat due to habitat loss caused by factors like mining, residential development, and urban expansion. Patrick Donnelly, the Great Basin Director for the Center of Biological Diversity, emphasizes that habitat loss is a leading cause of endangerment for many species.

The three species in question are the Railroad Valley toad, known for being one of the smallest western toad species, the Carson City Monkey Flower, and the pygmy rabbit found in the Great Basin.

The Carson City Monkey Flower, once widespread in the capital city, has lost 40% of its habitat, with ongoing destruction witnessed during housing development projects. Even natural events like wildfires contribute to habitat loss, impacting species like the pygmy rabbit that depend on sagebrush for survival.

While population decline is a concern, Donnelly notes that extinction risks are also influenced by the distribution of a species. For instance, the narrowly distributed Railroad Valley toad faces credible threats such as oil and gas extraction and proposed lithium extraction projects in its limited habitat.

To prevent these species from being listed as endangered, federal wildlife officials plan to conduct a year-long review, involving the assessment of existing scientific data and potentially new studies to enhance understanding of their ecology. The ultimate goal is to gather sufficient information to implement effective conservation measures and ensure the survival of these species in the face of various threats.

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