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Feds OK new study of Palouse earthworm

Already rejected once for endangered species protection, the giant Palouse earthworm has won a new study from the federal government after the first living specimens in decades were found.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday it had agreed to take another look at whether the rare earthworm deserves protection as an endangered species. Environmental groups’ initial petition was rejected in 2007 – a decision upheld in a June appeals court ruling.

“Given that it has wasted four years since our first petition, we hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will move quickly to protect the earthworm and its increasingly rare prairie habitat,” said Noah Greenwald, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in Portland, one of the petitioners.