Pygmy rabbit faces endangerment as Sagebrush Sea dwindles

Jan 26, 2024, 7:09 AM

Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis). Photo credit: Miranda Crowell....

Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis). Photo credit: Miranda Crowell.

(Brachylagus idahoensis)

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the pygmy rabbit, the world’s smallest rabbit, needs protection under the Endangered Species Act.

This little bunny, native to parts of Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, California, and Oregon, is currently under threat due to climate change, sickness, and habitat destruction.

The once-common pygmy rabbit has seen a progressive decline over the past 50 years. In Wyoming, the population has plummeted to a mere 15% occupancy, while in Utah the percentages are as low as 7% to 13%. With habitat loss and plummeting population, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that urgent action is required to preserve their habitats.

This specific habitat, known as the Sagebrush Sea, is an arid ecosystem with various species of sagebrush. The Sagebrush Sea has been shrinking quickly, losing approximately 1.3 million acres every year.

“Species like the pygmy rabbit are sagebrush obligates. Meaning that that’s the habitat that they depend on for their survival,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project.

“The alarming declines in multiple species that depend on healthy sagebrush habitats signal the need for immediate action to better protect our Sagebrush Sea habitats across the west,” said Vera Smith, senior federal lands policy analyst at Defenders of Wildlife.

Anderson also said that including the pygmy rabbit in the Endangered Species List would tell the government to look into the impact this habitat loss has on the species.

“This is a great first step toward protecting the tiny but mighty pygmy rabbit and the habitat it needs to survive,” said Randi Spivak, public land policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Motorists travel under a wildlife crossing bridge spanning I-80 in Parleys Canyon on Tuesday, Oct. ...

Mariah Maynes

Save People Save Wildlife urges creation of wildlife passageway on SR 224

Save People Save Wildlife has urged Park City's council to add a wildlife passageway on S.R. 224 to its 2024 strategic plan. The organization presented its case to the council on February 15. 

2 days ago

Natural Resources...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Division of Natural Resources wants to combine police agencies

The Utah Division of Natural Resources is seeking to combine its four law enforcements agencies into one unit.

2 days ago

A mountain lion first seen on the campus of USU on Tuesday morning later made their way to a nearby...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Mountain lion spotted at USU on Tuesday was found, captured

The mountain lion was first spotted on the USU campus, lounging in a tree near the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

9 days ago

Image of a long-eared owl being cared for at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in...


LISTEN: Utah’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facility faces uncertain future

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah has to vacate, and only has a few weeks to find new digs.

10 days ago

shed antlers 2024...

Tim Hughes

Antler shed season is open in Utah for 2024

We're one week into the annual shed antler and gathering season in Utah, and it's estimated 20,000 people will participate through mid-April.

15 days ago

A cutthroat trout...

Mariah Maynes

Utah Cutthroat Slam funds three conservation projects

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has announced three conservation projects for Utah's native cutthroat trout population. They were all funded by the Utah Cutthroat Slam.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Pygmy rabbit faces endangerment as Sagebrush Sea dwindles