Earthworm does not warrant federal protection

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SPOKANE, Wash (AP) -- The giant Palouse earthworm will not be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that recent information indicates the worm may be more widespread than previously thought and the agency needs more information before providing protections for the worm.

The giant Palouse earthworm was once thought to be abundant only in grasslands of the Palouse area of Washington and Idaho. But there are now recent confirmed locations along the east slope of Washington's North Cascade Range, including one in a forested site near Leavenworth.

Researchers have also found unconfirmed specimens near Chelan and in a forested location east of Moscow, Idaho.