Voracious Tibetan pikas fingered for grassland loss

Caitlin Stier
These cute critters are accused of having a destructive appetite. The pikas burrow through the meadows of the Tibetan plateau, feasting on grass and storing hay for the long winter. China is exterminating the creatures by throwing botulism-laced grain into pikas’ burrows in an effort to preserve what’s left of deteriorating grasslands for sheep and yaks, according to a BBC Radio report.

But Andrew Smith of Arizona State University contends that pikas may not be the cause after all. Overgrazing may be destroying the meadows, leaving behind short grasslands that provide pikas with a better view of potential predators.

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(Image:W K Fletcher/Science Photo Library)

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