The Nature Conservancy, University of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish Department released a new study identifying Wyoming species like the pygmy rabbit as most vulnerable to future population declines.
Birds, such as the burrowing owl, were determined to be the most vulnerable to disease. Other risk factors studied in the report include residential and energy development, and climate changes.
The most vulnerable taxonomic group overall were reptiles, with nearly half the species evaluated ranked as highly vulnerable to one or more of the identified risk factors.
The study acts as an early warning to alert state leaders where to invest conservation efforts before sensitive species like the plains spadefoot face serious population declines.
The study’s list of 51 highly vulnerable species also includes the greater sage-grouse, which has sparked unprecedented efforts in Wyoming to protect the grouse and avoid an ESA listing.
Amphibians such as the Wyoming toad were rated most vulnerable to climate change, according to the study.