A Lincoln County-area chipmunk is one of two species in the United States added to the list of candidates for possible designation as an endangered or threatened species, the Ruidoso News reported.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included the Penasco least chipmunk as vulnerable to extinction, the News said. The mammals, with stripes on their backs, are believed to live only in the Sacramento Mountains, particularly near Sierra Blanca.
The Fish and Wildlife notice said the Penasco least chipmunk is threatened by changes to its habitat from the alteration or loss of mature ponderosa pine forests, the paper reported.
Nearly 20 years ago the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish noted that the Penasco least chipmunk was in danger and wrote that the restoration and maintenance of its habitat was necessary, according to the News.
The chipmunk is not yet designated as endangered or threatened, but Fish and Wildlife said identification of candidates for consideration of the status can help environmental planning efforts, allowing landowners and resource managers to alleviate threats and possibly remove the need to list the species as endangered or threatened, the News said.