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New Study Cites Top 131 Most Vulnerable WY Species

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Wyoming's top 131 most vulnerable species are identified in a new study put together by the Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Game and Fish and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database. Senior Zoologist Doug Keinath with the Diversity Database says the goal of the study was not to place blame, but instead to give the state a heads up before certain species require emergency rescue measures, the way the greater sage grouse has. 

He says the state should keep an especially close eye on amphibians.

“One is that given all the development in the state they are very exposed,” Keinath says. “They’re also sensitive to a lot of different stressors. They’re sensitive to water quality. They’re sensitive to disease. And so a lot of amphibians sort of came out on the top. ”

The study ranks the species' vulnerability based on how exposed they are to stressors like development and how sensitive they are to disturbance. “The top three were Wyoming toad, Great Plains spade-foot toad and black-footed ferret. And for those three species in particular it was like a perfect storm. They were exposed and sensitive on all the different metrics that we calculated so they rose right to the top.” 

Many of the most vulnerable species live in basins while species living in mountainous areas were less likely to make the list.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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