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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

 March 26, 2004

 Contacts:        Susan Linner  (CO) 303-275-2370
                    Mary Jennings  (WY) 307-772-2374 x32                                                                    Diane Katzenberger  303-236-4578

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Initiate Status Review
of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that two petitions to remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from Federal protection under the Endangered Species Act provide substantial biological information to indicate that removal may be warranted. The Service will initiate a status review to assess population abundance and distribution, recovery progress, existing threats to this subspecies of meadow jumping mice, and taxonomic issues raised by a recent genetics study. A five-year review will be conducted simultaneously with the status review. When the status review is finished, the Service will issue a finding regarding whether the subspecies should remain listed or should be proposed for delisting.

 On Dec. 23, 2003, the Service received two petitions, one from the Office of the Governor of the State of Wyoming and the other from Coloradoans for Water Conservation and Development, to remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species based on new information. Both petitions have been considered in this finding.

 At the time of listing, Preble’s was classified as a subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse based on a 1954 study. However, the two petitions discussed new genetic research – which has recently become available in draft form and will soon be submitted to a scientific journal for peer review. This research could provide valuable information pertinent to the taxonomy of the mouse. This research suggests that the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse should not be classified as a separate subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse. Although this work has not yet gone through the rigorous peer review required prior to publication and wide acceptance by the scientific community, the Service has determined that it does constitute substantial information that removing the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species may be warranted.

 “There are many species for which there is little or no genetic information, and until now, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse was one of them,” said Ralph Morgenweck, the director for the mountain-prairie region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Once this new genetic information has been peer-reviewed, the Service will use it to help determine if the Preble’s mouse listing should be reassessed.”

 The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is closely associated with relatively narrow ecosystems that are adjacent to rivers and streams and that represent a small part of the landscape. The decline in the extent and quality of this habitat is considered the main factor threatening the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Habitat alteration, degradation, loss, and fragmentation resulting from urban development, flood control, water development, agriculture, and other human land uses have adversely impacted mouse populations. Habitat destruction may harm individual mice directly. It may also harm them indirectly by eliminating nest sites, food resources, and hibernation sites; by disrupting behavior; or by forming a barrier to movement.

 Landowners and the Service continue to develop Habitat Conservation Plans that address many private activities and facilitate conservation of the Preble’s mouse on private property. 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 the steps necessary to recover the subspecies.

 The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, one of 12 subspecies of meadow jumping mice found throughout North America, is 8 to 9 inches in length. Sixty percent of its length is accounted for by its tail. 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 subspecies corresponds largely to the rapidly developing Front Range Urban Corridor running from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The decline of the subspecies is indicative of the decline of riparian habitat throughout the Front Range.

 The ESA provides for citizens to petition the Service to take listing actions, including adding species to the lists of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants as well as removing species from the lists. The Service is required to make a finding – within 90 days if practicable – on whether the petition presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted. The Service publishes that finding in the Federal Register. When a positive 90-day finding is made, as it is in this case, the ESA requires that the status of the species be reviewed and a finding be made within 12 months of receipt of the petition – whether the petitioned action is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but precluded by other, higher-priority listing actions.

 The Federal Register notice the Service is publishing in the next few days announces its 90-day, “substantial” finding. It also requests public comment and any information relevant to a review of the status of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. The Service intends to make the required 12-month findings on these two petitions by Dec. 23, 2004.

 In addition, the ESA requires the Service to conduct a review of listed species at least once every five years. On the basis of this five-year review, the Service determines whether or not any species should be removed from the list, or reclassified from threatened to endangered or from endangered to threatened. Because of the similarity of the five-year review to the status review required for a 12-month petition finding, the Service has elected to conduct these reviews simultaneously. This petition finding initiates the five-year review for Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and requests public comments and information relevant to this review.

 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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 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.                                                              

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov

 

  Frequently Asked Questions
Questions and Answers

Regarding the 90-Day Finding on the
Petitions to Remove the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse from Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

 What is the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse?

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, one of 12 subspecies of meadow jumping mice found throughout North America, 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. 

What is a 90‑day petition finding?

When the Service receives a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species, the first step is to complete a finding on the petition. To the maximum extent practicable, the Service should make this finding within 90 days of receiving the petition. Notice of the finding is to be published promptly in the Federal Register. The purpose of the 90‑day finding is to determine whether the petition contains substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.

  How are Service petition findings made?

 When a petition is submitted, the Service must evaluate it to determine whether it provides substantial information to indicate that the petition action is warranted. The Service considers the reliability and adequacy of the information contained in the petition, the supporting documentation, and information otherwise available in Service files.

 Who petitioned the Service to remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the endangered species list?

On Dec. 23, 2003, the Service received petitions submitted by (1) the Office of the Governor of the State of Wyoming, and (2) Coloradoans for Water Conservation and Development to remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species based on new information. Both petitions have been considered in this finding.

 Why do the petitioners think the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse should be removed from Federal protection?

The petitioners believe that new genetic information, which has recently become available in draft form and will soon be submitted to a scientific journal for peer review, could provide valuable information pertinent to the taxonomy of the mouse.

 At the time of listing, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse was classified as a subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse. The classification was based on a 1954 study. The new genetics information suggests that the classification of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a distinct subspecies may be an error.

 What was the Service’s finding?

The Service determined that the two petitions to delist the Preble’s mouse as a threatened species provide substantial biological information to indicate that delisting may be warranted. 

 What happens now that the Service has determined the petitions were substantial?

The Service will initiate a status review to assess the abundance and distribution of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse population, the recovery progress, the existing threats, and taxonomic issues raised by the recent genetic study of the mouse. Upon conclusion of the status review, the Service will issue a finding regarding the listing status of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

 What criteria are used to determine if a species should be removed from the Endangered Species list?

Removing a species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data available. Such data must substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons:

1.  the species is considered extinct;
2.  the species is considered to be recovered; and/or
3.  the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error. 

How does the Service decide whether a species has been recovered and should be removed from the Endangered Species list?

Under the Endangered Species Act, the process the Service uses to remove a species is similar to the one it uses to list a species. The Service assesses the population and its recovery achievements, as well as the existing threats. It also seeks advice from species experts in and outside the Service. To assess the existing threats, the Service must determine that the species is no longer threatened or endangered based on one or more of the five factors:

A) the present or threatened destruction, modification or curtailment of its habitat or range; 

B) over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

C) disease or predation;

D) inadequate protection by other Federal, State or local laws: or

E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

 What happens once the status review is completed?

If the status review indicates that a change in listing status is not warranted, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse will remain listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

 If the Service determines that delisting is warranted, it will propose the action in the Federal Register and seek the opinion of independent species experts, other Federal agencies, State biologists, and the public. After analyzing the comments received on the proposed rulemaking, the Service will decide whether to complete the proposed action or maintain the status of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as it is. The Service’s final decision will be announced in the Federal Register. The comments received and the Service’s responses are addressed in the final rule.

 What is a five-year review?

The ESA requires that the Service conduct a review of listed species at least once every five years.  On the basis of the five-year review the Service determines whether or not any species should be removed from the List, or reclassified from endangered to threatened or from threatened to endangered. Regulations also require that the Service publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those species currently under active review. Because of the similarity of the five-year review to the status review required to make a 12-month petition finding, the Service have elected to conduct these reviews simultaneously. At the conclusion of these simultaneous reviews, the Service will issue the 12-month finding on the petition, and make the requisite finding based on the results of the five-year review. 

 Why is the Service conducting the five-year review now?

Because both the 12-month finding and the five-year review require a status review, the Service is electing to prepare these reviews simultaneously. The Service indicated in the recent final rule designating critical habitat for the Preble’s that it would undertake a five-year review of Preble’s in the near future.

 Where can I get a copy of the Service’s 90-day finding on the petitions remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species?

In Colorado, information is available for public review, by appointment, during normal business hours at 755 Parfet St., Lakewood, Colorado 80215. For more information call (303) 275-2370.  In Wyoming, visit 4000 Airport Parkway, Cheyenne, WY  82001. For more information call (307) 772‑2374.

  Visit the Mountain Prairie Region website: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov 


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