The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it will be conducting a review of 11 species in the coming year, to determine if any merit protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Prominent among the animals that will be considered is a second-timer in the process, the Northern Rocky Mountain fisher, a small carnivore in the same taxonomic family as weasels, minks, and otters.
VIDEO: How The Endangered Species Act Looks Out For Animals
About 2.5 to 4 feet long, weighing up to 13 pounds, fishers are short of foot, with bushy tails, giving them a somewhat cat-like body shape. They live across Canada and in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Northern Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, and New England.
The animals prefer forests near open waters, and the Rocky Mountains fishers steer clear of deep snows, instead favoring areas with good tree cover for weather protection and gently sloped terrain.
Protection for the Rockies fisher won't exactly be good news to some of its favorite fare: snowshoe hares, birds, mice, and squirrels. Porcupines won't be happy either. According to the FWS, fishers are one of the few predators to feed on the spiky critters.
Delmarva Fox Squirrel No Longer Endangered
The second time could be the charm for the Rocky Mountains fisher. The FWS conducted a status review of the creature in 2011, at the time concluding that while factors such as habitat loss and fur trapping were of concern, they were not significant enough to put a dent in the population. Now, however, the animal will get a new hearing.
Also up for potential protection will be seven species of skink -- a lizard with more than 1,500 species in its family -- as well as the Great Basin silverspot butterfly, the narrow-footed diving beetle and the Scott Riffle beetle.
There will be a 60-day public comment period, expiring March 12, for each species under review, in which scientific and commercial data may be submitted about the animals.