Seeing as how I’m Sightline’s expert on all things giant earthworm-related (no, it’s not on my business card yet) I’d be remiss not to mention this story. Apparently, a conservation group is suing the feds for not responding to a petition to list the giant Palouse earthworm as an endangered species.
What’s interesting about this story is not only that it’s about a giant worm (though that does help). It’s also interesting because the not-so-lowly worm may be the last best hope for protecting the remnants of the nearly-destroyed Palouse grasslands—an inland Northwest ecosystem that was once astonishingly fertile and that now supports mostly wheat. For reasons both good and bad, conservation often piggybacks on charismatic ambassadors like polar bears or bison. But it remains to be seen whether the giant earthworm has the star power to do the trick in the Palouse.
In the worm’s favor, it’s won at least one convert in the person of Sightline’s very own Leigh Sims. In an email yesterday, she upbraided me for my worm skepticism. I quote:
How can you say they aren’t charismatic wildlife? You never told us that the giant Palouse earthworms smell like flowers and can spit! You can’t get much more charismatic than that. [Emphasis hers.]
Fair enough. I stand corrected. So much so, in fact, that I’ll let Leigh have the last word:
They’re so rad.