Texas kangaroo rat listed proposed as potential endangered species

Texas Kangaroo Rat
Texas Kangaroo Rat(Texas Parks and Wildlife)
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 3:22 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2023 at 3:23 PM CDT
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Texas (KAUZ) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the Texas kangaroo rat, a small nocturnal rodent in north-central Texas, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also proposing designating 597,069 acres in five Texas counties as critical habitats that are essential to the conservation of the species.

Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened.

The classification of “endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range in this context.

The primary threats to the Texas kangaroo rat are habitat loss and degradation, which is related to the loss of American bison, black-tailed prairie dogs, and periodic wildfires.

Critical habitats for the Texas kangaroo rat are in six occupied areas that are particularly important for the conservation of the species in Childress, Cottle, Hardeman, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties near the Texas-Oklahoma border.

According to information sent to News Channel 6, critical habitats are defined by the ESA as the geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of listed species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits. Non-federal landowners in these proposed critical habitat units may enroll in the associated Texas Kangaroo Rat Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances held by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Texas kangaroo rat was petitioned for listing in 2010, and the petition presented substantial information that listing may be warranted in 2011. This listing and critical habitat proposals are based on the best available science, including a Species Status Assessment Report that included input and review from academia and state agencies.

The proposal to list the Texas kangaroo rat as endangered and designate critical habitat will publish in the Federal Register on Aug. 17, 2023, and public comments will be accepted until Oct. 16, 2023.

Frequently asked questions about this proposal can be found here, and more information about the Texas kangaroo rat can be found here.