Environmentalists sue to protect rare giant Palouse earthworm

Environmentalists sue to protect rare giant Palouse earthworm
A Palouse Earthworm is seen in this photo provided by the University of Idaho.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Environmental groups have sued the government to overturn a decision that a rarely seen giant earthworm that spits at attackers does not merit Endangered Species Act protection.

The groups are asking a federal court to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finding last October that the giant Palouse earthworm does not warrant protection, despite numbers that suggest it may be close to extinction.

The giant earthworm, which can grow as long as 3 feet, lives in the Washington-Idaho region known as the Palouse. One was found by a University of Idaho researcher in May 2005. Before that, the giant worm had not been spotted since 1988.

Searches in 2002 failed to find any.