And here they thought they had a case. Just a couple of months after University of Idaho scientists pulled two rare giant Palouse earthworms out of the ground — worms that had been long fabled as smelling of lilies and spitting at attackers — an appeal to protect the worms was denied this week.
Ninth Circuit judges noted that the worm-lovers’ petition “failed to identify a single well-designed study determining the current or historical population and range of the earthworm.” The denial also noted that those calling to protect the worm did not present sufficient evidence that the worm was actually threatened by agriculture, residential development or by stronger, tougher exotic earthworms.
But Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director for the Center for Biological Diversity (who co-wrote the petition), says the appeal to the Ninth Circuit wasn’t the only ball that he and environmental groups had in the air. They also filed a petition last July with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect the worm — and Greenwald says he’s heard from someone on the inside that the new petition is likely to get a good look.
“They are still alive,” he says. “There’s something there to save.”
To read my cover story on the worms, go here.