Photos of the Pika, North America's Cutest Mammal

Dangers to life

(Image credit: NPS)

Climate change is without doubt the greatest threat to the pika population of the Rocky Mountains. Biologist have discovered that the average elevation in which pikas survive and thrive has risen 900 feet (275 meters) in recent years. Rising temperatures not only reduce snow pack but also can cause the thick insulating coats of pika to trap in their body heat and causing the pika to die as a result of overheating. Other threats to these charming North American mammals include livestock grazing and an increase interaction with humans entering their mountain top territories.

Lack of action

(Image credit: NPS)

Sadly the American pika has failed twice to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act with the most recent denial coming in 2016. Scientist contend the denial was made for political reasons, not from scientific fact. They suggest that granting an animal, no matter how cute, protection due to climate change would open a whole new set of arguments within the political theatre. It seems so tragic that a native mammal which has been described as "one of the nation's cutest critters" and a "cross between a "bunny rabbit and a prairie dog" now faces an uncertain future due to the lack of action to deal with the ever increasing issues of the earth's changing climate.

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