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‘Species of Concern’ Captured On Video Cam And Park Services Are Taking Notice

Written by: Dee Michaels
Dee Michaels is a passionate and accomplished writer, renowned for his heartwarming and engaging stories on more
| Published on April 9, 2024

In a captivating revelation from West Virginia, the National Parks Service (NPS) has highlighted the Allegheny woodrat, a species currently designated as a “species of concern,” sparking interest and concern for its conservation. This rare sighting occurred in the Monongahela National Forest, where a trail camera captured footage of this elusive creature, a moment shared on the forest’s official Facebook page during a “Trail Cam Tuesday” feature.

The Allegheny woodrat, despite its misleading name and considerable size, shares a closer genetic relationship with mice than with rats. It’s a federally threatened species, with an estimated population of only 100,000 remaining in the wild, underscoring the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these unique rodents and their habitat.

Image Source Credit via YouTube

The decline of the Allegheny woodrat has been a subject of concern and speculation among conservationists and scientists. One theory points to the invasive gypsy moth, also referred to as the spongy moth, as a significant threat. This pest attacks acorn-bearing oak trees, a crucial food source and habitat for the woodrat, potentially contributing to the species’ decreasing numbers.

The exact location within the Monongahela National Forest where the Allegheny woodrat was spotted was not disclosed by the Forest Service. However, this sighting adds to the growing body of evidence that the Allegheny woodrat still persists in areas where it was previously believed to be locally extinct or severely diminished.

Notably, in October 2022, the NPS reported the discovery of both adult and juvenile Allegheny woodrats in Harpers Ferry during a survey. This marked the first observation of the species in the National Historic Park in over two decades, offering a glimmer of hope for its continued survival and prompting a renewed focus on its conservation status and the factors impacting its decline.

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