|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
February 17, 2006
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Extends Proposal to Delist
Public Comment Period Reopened
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a six-month extension of its proposal to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and reopened the public comment period until April 18, 2006.
On February 2, 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 12-Month Finding on a petition to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) and proposed to remove the mouse from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. The delisting proposal was primarily based on genetic research conducted by Dr. Rob Roy Ramey formerly of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science suggesting that the Preble’s should be considered the same subspecies as the Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse (Z. h. campestris).
Retesting and further substantiating the conclusions of Dr. Ramey was recommended by numerous peer reviewers and members of the public. Seeking to use the best science possible in making the final decision, the Service commissioned Dr. Tim King of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to do an independent genetic analysis of several meadow jumping mouse subspecies. Dr. King’s study has been peer reviewed in accordance with USGS protocol. This report was provided to the Service on January 25, 2006. The findings and conclusions of Ramey et al. and King et al. are contradictory in nearly every comparison and conclusion.
Because of the complexity of this issue, the Service will extend for six months its proposal to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. A six-month extension in making final determinations on listing or delisting proposals is allowed under the Endangered Species Act in situations where there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data.
“The purpose of the six-month extension is to allow additional time to solicit and evaluate additional information that may help to resolve the scientific disagreement,” said Mitch King, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. “In order to ensure the public has full access to and an opportunity to comment on all available information, the Service is also reopening the public comment period for 60 days.”
During the six-month extension, the Service will convene a panel of experts in mammalian systematics and taxonomy, biogeography, vertebrate speciation, evolution, and genetics. The panel of experts will carefully review and assess the full body of information and provide their individual, professional judgments about the taxonomic status of the mouse. The Service will then consider all the relevant information when making a final delisting determination.
Documents relative to the delisting proposal are available at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble.
Written comments will be received until April 18, 2006 and can be sent to the Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225. Comments may also be hand delivered to the Colorado Field Office at 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 670, Lake Plaza North, Lakewood, CO 80228, via facsimile to 303-236-4005, or via electronic mail to FW6_PMJM@fws.gov.
For further information, contact Susan Linner, Field Supervisor of the Colorado Field Office, at 303-236-4773.
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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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