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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

January 29, 1999

Pete Plage (303) 275-2370
Mary Jennings (307) 772-2374 x 32
Sharon Rose (303) 236-7917 x 415

COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED FOR PROPOSED RULE ON CONSERVATION OF PREBLE’S MEADOW JUMPING MOUSE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will accept comments from the public until March 5, 1999, on its proposed special rule for conservation of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, extending the original comment period by 31 days. The Preble’s, a rare mammal whose range is limited mainly to the front range corridor from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a threatened species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The proposed special rule, allowed under Section 4 (d) of the Act to promote conservation of threatened species, would allow certain currently prohibited activities which the Service believes would not negatively impact recovery of the mouse. If implemented, the special rule would be in effect for an 18-month period, pending development of Habitat Conservation Plans, which are specific agreements between the Service and the affected landowners to protect habitat.

The special rule identifies important habitat areas in Colorado and Wyoming that are crucial to conservation and recovery of the Preble’s, which has been listed as threatened since May 1998. The mouse would be protected within these designated areas, while the current prohibition on incidental killing or harming of a mouse outside of these areas would be lifted. The rule would also loosen restrictions within the protection areas on activities which the Service believes have no adverse impact on the species. These activities, which would be allowed under the rule, include: 1) rodent control within 10 feet of or inside any structure, 2) ongoing agricultural activities, including grazing, 3) maintenance and replacement of existing landscaping and related structures, and 4) exercise of perfected water rights under state law.

In addition, state and local governments which meet specified protection standards would, under the special rule, be allowed to approve new projects that modify up to 4 percent of the total habitat within a "mouse protection area."

Depictions of the geographic Mouse Protection Areas and Potential Mouse Protection Areas, which have been revised since publication of the proposed rule on December 3, 1998, in the Federal Register, are available for review at 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, Colorado, telephone 303/275-2370 and 4000 Morrie Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming, telephone 307/772-2374; and on the internet at www.r6.fws.gov/preble.

Comments on the proposal should be provided in writing and mailed to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, LeRoy Carlson, Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0207.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores 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 wildlife agencies.


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