The Fish and Wildlife Service announced on August 19, 2010 that it will not be removing the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This decision constitutes the Service’s 12-month finding (PDF) on a petition submitted by the Riverside County Farm Bureau in 2002 to delist the species as endangered.

The Stephens’ kangaroo rat is a burrow-dwelling nocturnal mammal that inhabits arid and grassy habitats in western North America.  It is known to occur at lower elevations of the dry inland valleys west of the Peninsular Ranges of southern California.  At the time of listing in 1988, the species’ geographic range encompassed the Perris, San Jacinto, and Temecula Valleys in western Riverside County, and the San Luis Rey Valley in San Diego County.  Since listing, additional populations have been found near the Silverado Conservation Bank in western Riverside County and Rancho Guejito and Ramona Grasslands in San Diego County.

According to the Service, delisting is not warranted at this time because the criteria provided in the draft recovery plan (PDF) for delisting the species have not been met.  The criteria includes (1) establishment of a minimum of five reserves, one of which is ecosystem-based, in western Riverside County that encompass at least 16,500 acres of occupied habitat that are permanently protected, funded, and managed; and (2) establishment of two ecosystem-based reserves in San Diego County, one in the Western Conservation Planning Area and one in the Central Conservation Planning Area, which are permanently protected, funded, and managed.