In a move that will no doubt be considered controversial, the legendary Palouse earthworm has been denied protection as an endangered species. The reason? Because it is so rare to find one, not enough evidence has been gathered to conclude populations are dangerously low. In addition to the government study of the creature, the court concluded that the Earthworm also did not share many of the characteristics that once were attributed to it by cryptozoologists.
The creature is considered one of the most elusive in the wild, and as a result the 9th circuit appellate court has declared the previously mysterious monster to be nothing more than a common creature requiring no special treatment by the government and receiving no further protection or grants to ensure its survival. The ruling came just after the continued existence of the creature was confirmed when one was captured earlier this year. Furthermore, study of the specimen indicated that many commonly held beliefs about the Earthworm were complete fabrications including many traits that it allegedly held in common with the Mongolian Death Worm. The creature, according to analysis by Sam James an expert on the subject of worms, concluded that the creature did not spit in order to defend itself, did not smell like lilies, and does not grow to over two feet long as rumors long dictated. The worm was concluded to actually be fairly normal in its behavior as far as worms go. In fact, one of the few truly noteworthy features the worm had was its ability to elude human capture. For several years the creatures were thought to be extinct after 1987 when the last samples were captured from the wild. Only in 2005 did the creatures finally escape the extinct species list, and recently the latest samples have been discovered.
It’s interesting to note that a species, even one as humble as an earthworm can jump all over the place from being fabled to exist (or not exist depending on the expert) to simply being rare to being extinct and now being considered common (albeit elusive) enough to not share room on the endangered species list that once housed the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf until its populations began rising again after 2009. The endangered species list is commonly divided into four categories. The highest extreme is officially classified as extinct, then endangered (which provides the species special rights and considerations), then Threatened, then de-listed. The list is controversial as it is only representative of some species that are most threatened by human interactions due to farming, deforestation, fishing, and other interactions with the species’ natural habitat. The status of the Palouse earthworm, though officially not endangered is still a subject of controversy who suggest it is not being seen very often not because of an incredible ability to go unnoticed by humans, but rather because there are few of them left in the world. Though it is not as supernatural as once thought, many who have been searching for years for the fabled creature are finding now that they wish to preserve it for the sake of biodiversity.