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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

December 18, 2003

Contacts: Pete Plage (CO) 303-236-4750
                  Mary Jennings (12/18-19) 303-236-7400 x280
                                          (WY) 307-772-2374 x32
                  Sharon Rose 303-236-4580

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds that Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Should Remain Listed as Threatened

After evaluating three petitions to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that they did not provide substantial biological information to indicate that delisting may be warranted. The mouse will remain listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in Colorado and Wyoming.

This determination completes the Service’s 90-day finding according to the schedule established in a settlement agreement reached as the result of a lawsuit brought by Mountain States Legal Foundation. This finding is the final action the Service will undertake on these petitions. However, the Service will continue to evaluate information on the status of the mouse as it becomes available. And in the near future, it will conduct the five-year review of the mouse’s status as required by the Endangered Species Act.

In a separate action, the Mountain States Legal Foundation recently filed a lawsuit regarding the Preble’s mouse. The Service has not yet reviewed the allegations contained in this lawsuit.

"None of the available scientific information demonstrates that delisting the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is justified at this time," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. "However, if new information becomes available in the future that suggests a delisting might be warranted, the Service will evaluate that information and reassess the subspecies’ listing."

The Service is aware that a genetic study of the mouse is underway. While it could provide information pertinent to the continued listing of the mouse, no results from the study have been available for use in this petition finding. Petition findings are based on information provided by the petitioner and on information available in Service files. In order to comply with the schedule established by the settlement agreement, it was not possible to wait for new data to become available in preparing this petition finding. However, the Service will review this information after it has become available and has been through scientific peer review.

Wyoming Rep. Barbara Cubin first petitioned the Service to delist the mouse in Colorado and Wyoming. The Service received two other petitions to delist the mouse – one from Mr. Robert B. Hoff and one from the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. These petitions are being treated as second petitions for the requested delisting action and both have been considered in this 90-day finding. In addition to considering information provided by the petitioners, the Service also considered the information readily available at the time of this finding. The available information does not indicate that the original data for the listing of the species was in error, or that the mouse has become less threatened to the extent that listing may no longer be warranted.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is closely associated with riparian ecosystems that are relatively narrow and represent a small percentage of the landscape. If habitat for the mouse is destroyed or modified, populations in those areas will decline and may disappear. The decline in the extent and quality of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat is considered the main factor threatening the subspecies. Habitat alteration, degradation, loss, and fragmentation resulting from urban development, flood control, water development, agriculture, and other human land uses have adversely impacted populations of this species. Habitat destruction may impact individual mice, either directly, or by destroying nest sites, food resources, and hibernation sites; or by disrupting behavior, or forming a barrier to movement.

To facilitate conservation of Preble’s mouse on private property, the Service continues to work with landowners in developing Habitat Conservation Plans that address many private activities. The Service has also established a special rule under the Endangered Species Act that exempts six types of activities from the general prohibitions of the Act. These activities include rodent control, use of existing water rights, ongoing agriculture, landscape maintenance, noxious weed control, and maintenance of ditches. The Service is also in the process of preparing a recovery plan for the Preble’s mouse, which will outline steps necessary to recover the species.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse, is 8 to 9 inches in length with a tail that accounts for 60 percent of its measurement. It has coarse fur with a dark back, paler sides tending toward yellowish brown and a white belly. Its hind feet are long and adapted for jumping small distances. The range of the species corresponds largely to the rapidly developing Front Range Urban Corridor running from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The decline of the species is indicative of the decline of riparian habitat throughout the Front Range. The Service listed the species as threatened in May 1998.

This finding is published in today’s Federal Register. More information regarding the finding can be obtained at the Service’s web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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