[Federal Register: May 13, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 92)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 26517-26530]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr13my98-46]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE06


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule to List
the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse as a Threatened Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines the Preble's
meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) to be a threatened
species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as
amended. The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, a small rodent in the
family Zapodidae, is known to occur in seven counties in Colorado and
two counties in Wyoming. Historical records document its former
presence in additional counties in Colorado and Wyoming. The Preble's
meadow jumping mouse lives primarily in heavily vegetated riparian
habitats. Habitat loss and degradation caused by agricultural,
residential, commercial, and industrial development imperil its
continued existence. This action implements the protection of the Act
for Preble's meadow jumping mouse.

DATES: This rule is effective June 12, 1998.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for public
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service's Colorado Field Office, 755 Parfet Street,
Suite 361, Lakewood, Colorado.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: LeRoy W. Carlson, Field Supervisor,
Colorado Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486,
Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0207 (telephone 303/275-
2370).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei)
(Preble's) is a small rodent in the family Zapodidae and is 1 of 12
recognized subspecies of the species Z. hudsonius, the meadow jumping
mouse (Krutzsch 1954, Whitaker 1972, Hafner 1981). The family Zapus
consists of small to medium-sized mice with long tails and long feet
adapted for jumping. Krutzsch (1954) provided a revision of the
taxonomy of the genus Zapus in North America and recognized three
living species, Z. hudsonius, Z. trinotatus, and Z. princeps. As the
most recent revision of Z. hudsonius, this stands as the authority for
taxonomy. Fitzgerald et al. (1994) described Z. hudsonius as greyish to
yellowish-brown in color with an indistinct mid-dorsal band of darker
hair and paler sides, large hindlegs and hindfeet, and a sparsely
haired tail that accounts for more than 60 percent of the total length.
In his 1899 revision of North American jumping mice, E. A. Preble
referred specimens of the meadow jumping mouse from Colorado and
southeastern Wyoming to the subspecies Z. h. campestris (Preble 1899,
cited by Krutzsch 1954). Krutzsch (1954) described and named Z. h.
preblei as separate from Z. h. campestris, indicating as the holotype a
specimen obtained by E. A. Preble in July 1895 from Loveland, Larimer
County, Colorado. All records of Preble's are from southeastern Wyoming
and eastern Colorado. The coloration of Preble's was described by
Krutzsch (1954) as ``color dull, back from near Clay Color to near
Tawny-Olive with a mixture of black hair forming poorly defined dorsal
band; sides lighter than back from near Clay Color to near Cinnamon-
Buff; lateral line distinct and clear Ochraceous-Buff; belly white,
sometimes faint wash of clear Ochraceous-Buff; tail bicolored, brownish
to light brownish-black above, grayish-white to yellowish-white below''
(capitalized color terms refer to a scientific standard, while lower
case terms reflect common usage). Krutzsch (1954) also provided a
technical description of the skull of Preble's, which can prove
important to its identification.
There is a similarity of appearance between the Preble's meadow
jumping mouse and Z. princeps, which also occurs in portions of
Colorado and Wyoming. In general, Z. hudsonius may be distinguished
from Z. princeps by average external size and cranial size (Krutzsch
1954, Whitaker 1972). Preble's may be distinguished from Z. princeps by
a less pronounced mid-dorsal band, smaller average total length, and a
skull that is small and light with a narrower braincase and smaller
molars (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). Since coloration of the mid-dorsal
band and total length are not definitive characteristics, skull
measurements are most useful for positive identification. Ranges of the
Preble's and Z. princeps are not known to overlap in Colorado but the
relationships between respective ranges in Wyoming is less clear
(Garber 1995, Armstrong 1972).
Krutzsch (1954) commented on the presence of physical habitat
barriers and lack of known intergradation between the Preble's meadow
jumping mouse, known only from eastern Colorado and southeastern
Wyoming, and other identified subspecies of Z. hudsonius ranging to the
east and north. Among recognized subspecies, Krutzsch found that
Preble's most closely resembled Z. campestris from northeastern
Wyoming, but summarized differences in coloration and skull
characteristics. Krutzsch concluded that considerable differences
existed between Preble's and related subspecies. In contrast, Jones
(1981) studied specific and intraspecific relationships within Zapus
and recognized no subspecies of Z. hudsonius. Jones did, however cite
that Z. hudsonius populations in Colorado and southeastern Wyoming were
apparently isolated from other populations. Hafner et al. (1981)
described an additional subspecies Z. hudsonius luteus present in New
Mexico and Arizona and differentiated it from Preble's. This subspecies
was previously considered Z. princeps luteus, a subspecies of the
western jumping mouse. Recently, Z. h. luteus was found in Las Animas
County, Colorado (Riggs et al. 1997), the furthest north that the
subspecies has been recorded, but over 100 miles south of the confirmed
range of Preble's in Colorado.
Results from genetic analysis of mice from Rocky Flats
Environmental Technology Site (Rocky Flats) in Jefferson County,
Colorado, Z.

[[Page 26518]]

hudsonius from Minnesota and Indiana, and, Z. princeps from Colorado,
provided clear evidence that the Rocky Flats mice were of the species
Z. hudsonius. However, the analysis did not provide a means of
separating subspecies of Z. hudsonius (Bruce Wunder, Colorado State
University, pers. comm. 1996). Under a cost-sharing agreement with the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife
supported genetic studies of Preble's trapped in Colorado and Wyoming
during the 1996 and 1997 field seasons. Tissue samples from presumed
Preble's trapped at 23 locations in Colorado and 2 in Wyoming were
assessed, through mitochondrial DNA analysis, and compared to reference
samples of Z. princeps and to samples of Z. hudsonius from outside the
known range of Preble's. The analysis indicated that mice from Albany
County, Wyoming (Medicine Bow National Forest) to western Las Animas
County, Colorado (San Isabel National Forest) formed a coherent genetic
group (Riggs et al. 1997). The report concluded that ``data appear
consistent with the view that a geographically contiguous set of
populations previously recognized as Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Z.
h. preblei) form a homogenous group recognizably distinct from other
nearby populations and from geographically-adjacent species of the
genus'' (Riggs et al. 1997). However, some specimens of Z. hudsonius
from outside the known range of Preble's, including Z. h. campestris
from northern Wyoming, were indistinguishable from Preble's based on
the analysis. Hafner (1998) reviewed the report cited above and found
no fault with the currently accepted taxonomic relationship of the
subspecies Z. h. preblei, Z. h. campestris, and Z. h. luteus. He
commented that current recognition of these subspecies is appropriately
based on geographic variation of morphological traits and distribution.
Other conclusions of interest from the Riggs et al. (1997) genetic
study included a specimen from San Isabel National Forest, Las Animas
County, Colorado, which was identified as Z. princeps when it was
collected, but was later determined to be most similar to Preble's
meadow jumping mouse. The presence of Preble's in Las Animas County
would significantly expand its known range southward. Reexamination of
this specimen confirmed diagnostic dentation of Z. princeps (Cheri
Jones, Denver Museum of Natural History, in litt. 1998). A mouse from
Lone Tree Creek, Weld County, Colorado, and six mice from F.E. Warren
Air Force Base, Laramie County, Wyoming, were identified as Preble's
when they were trapped and later determined to be most similar to Z.
princeps (Riggs et al. 1997). Hafner (1998) suggested that the
discrepancies in species associations found in the analysis by Riggs et
al. (1997) could be due to the specific DNA segment chosen for
analysis, or to limited hybridization in areas where the two species'
ranges overlap. Riggs et al. (1997), Hafner (1998), Tanya Shenk
(Colorado Division of Wildlife, in litt. 1998), and David Armstrong
(University of Colorado, in litt. 1998) encouraged additional genetic
and morphological investigations to further define relationships among
Zapus in the region.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse has not been studied as
extensively as other subspecies of Z. hudsonius have been studied
elsewhere. Preble's is thought to be similar to other Z. hudsonius in
patterns of diet, behavior, breeding, and habitat utilization. In
general, Z. hudsonius subsists on seeds, small fruits, fungi, and
insects, and hibernates from October to May (Whitaker 1972, Fitzgerald
et al. 1994). It is adapted for digging, creates nests of grasses,
leaves, and woody material several centimeters below the ground, and is
primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, but can be observed during
daylight. During the breeding season (June to mid-August), females
typically have 2 to 3 litters of 5 to 6 young per litter (Quimby 1951,
Fitzgerald et al. 1994). Z. hudsonius hibernates approximately 7 months
of the year in an underground burrow that it excavates itself (Quimby
1951, Whitaker 1963).
Krutzsch (1954), Quimby (1951), and Armstrong (1972) agree that
across its range, Z. hudsonius occurs mostly in low undergrowth
consisting of grasses, forbs (herbaceous plants other than grasses), or
both, in open wet meadows and riparian corridors, or where tall shrubs
and low trees provide adequate cover. In addition, Z. hudsonius prefers
lowlands with medium to high moisture over drier uplands. Whitaker
(1972) concluded that Z. hudsonius avoids the sparse vegetation that is
generally associated with low moisture habitats. Fitzgerald et al.
(1994) described Z. hudsonius as most common in lush vegetation along
watercourses or in herbaceous understories in wooded areas. Tester et
al. (1993) suggested that proximity to water may be the most important
factor influencing habitat selection and utilization by Z. hudsonius.
Some aspects of Preble's meadow jumping mouse life history,
behavior, and habitat utilization have been documented. Armstrong et
al. (1997) and Shenk (in litt. 1998) have compiled summaries of
information on Preble's gleaned from recent studies. Data on the timing
of the initial breeding period and time of hibernation of the Preble's
meadow jumping mouse have been gathered by researchers at Rocky Flats
(PTI Environmental Services 1996a). The month of May marks the
beginning of the active period for Preble's, with May 5 the earliest
capture date at Rocky Flats. Breeding probably occurs soon after
emergence. Adults begin hibernation in early September, while juveniles
enter hibernation from mid-September to late October. The latest
recorded date of capture of Preble's at Rocky Flats is October 27.
Adults reach approximately 20 percent body fat before going into
hibernation (Wunder pers. com. 1997).
Little information exists on Preble's meadow jumping mouse food
preferences. It has been speculated that Preble's may need an open
water source to fulfill dietary water requirements. Armstrong et al.
(1997) reported that trapping success in ephemeral drainages decreased
notably in late summer after creekflow ceased.
Preble's meadow jumping mouse has been shown to move a significant
distance along drainages but has not been shown to cross dry uplands to
reach adjacent drainages. A male Preble's was recaptured 1.6 kilometers
(km) (1 mile) (mi) upstream from a previous capture site and a female
Preble's captured 1.2 km (.75 mi) downstream from a previous capture
site (Thomas Ryon, PTI Environmental Services, pers. com. 1998).
At Rocky Flats, the Preble's meadow jumping mouse appears to be
primarily dependent on riparian shrublands, and on mesic mixed
grasslands that are adjacent to shrublands and in close proximity to
streams (PTI Environmental Services 1996b). Field studies at Rocky
Flats led to the conclusion that Preble's is typically found in or near
complex riparian communities with multi-strata woodland and herbaceous
species (Harrington et al. 1996). Capture locations were typically
humid with high litter content. In a spring 1996 study at Rocky Flats,
all captures were within 25 meters (m) (82 feet) (ft) of streams, with
48 percent of captures within 5 m (16 ft) of streams (PTI Environmental
Services 1996a). In the same study, 90 percent of captures occurred
within 5 m (16 ft) of canopy edge consisting of Salix exigua (coyote
willow), Symphoricarpos occidentalis (western snowberry), Prunus
americana

[[Page 26519]]

(choke cherry), and other species. Margins of artificial ponds at Rocky
Flats are thought to be important foraging sites (Harrington et al.
1996).
Most successful capture sites at Rocky Flats were in dense
vegetation that presented burrowing or nesting opportunities. Five
nests were located in dense vegetation (Harrington et al. 1995). Based
on a single underground hibernaculum, located through use of telemetry,
upland habitats may be used for hibernation by Preble's (Fred
Harrington, Pawnee Natural History Society, pers. comm. 1995). Robert
Schorr (Colorado Natural Heritage Program, pers. com. 1997) reported
four apparent hibernacula located by telemetry from 7 m (23 ft) to 31 m
(101 ft) from the creek bed of Monument Creek, U.S. Air Force Academy,
El Paso County, Colorado. All four hibernacula appeared to be below
Salix exigua.
Ryon (1996) reported that four of five recent (1990 or later)
Preble's meadow jumping mouse capture sites he evaluated in Colorado
had five structural habitat components: trees, tall shrubs, short
shrubs, herbaceous vegetation, and ground cover. The fifth site had few
trees. In contrast, historical capture sites where Ryon failed to
capture Preble's generally lacked one or more of these components.
Preble's was captured along Monument Creek within the U.S. Air
Force Academy lands primarily in densely vegetated riparian communities
where Salix spp., Symphoricarpos occidentalis, Populus angustifolia
(narrow-leaf cottonwood), and thick grass understory were dominant
(Corn et al. 1995). Garber (1995) characterized capture sites along
Lodgepole Creek, Albany County, Wyoming as moist areas near beaver
ponds with dense sedges and Salix sp. Ryon (1996) suggested that where
Preble's occupies habitat along intermittent streams, adjacent wet
meadows and seeps may be important habitats in dry periods.
Armstrong et al. (1997, p. 77) described typical Preble's meadow
jumping mouse habitat as ``well-developed plains riparian vegetation
with relatively undisturbed grassland and a water source in close
proximity.'' Also noted was a preference for ``dense herbaceous
vegetation consisting of a variety of grasses, forbs and thick
shrubs.'' Meaney et al. (1997) suggested that Preble's has a broader
ecological tolerance than previously thought and while they require
diverse vegetation and well developed cover, this can be met in a
variety of circumstances. Recent captures that were exceptions to the
typical habitat described include individuals found along a small
irrigation ditch and in a mesic grassy field on City of Boulder Open
Space land (Clint Miller, City of Boulder, in litt. 1996). Ensight
Technical Services (1997) reported instances of Preble's meadow jumping
mouse trapped at or near sites of human alteration including ditches
along roads and driveways, and wetlands adjacent to highways. Meaney et
al. (1997) emphasized that vegetated ditches may be a significant
habitat for Preble's and may provide dispersal routes.
Preble's meadow jumping mouse may never have been widespread in the
period since western settlement. Armstrong (1972) described it as
poorly known in Colorado and apparently nowhere abundant. The known
historical range of Preble's may represent a relict of a more southern
range of Z. hudsonius, occupied when the climate was cooler and more
damp (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). The apparent local extirpation of
Preble's from historically occupied sites in Colorado and Wyoming, and
the difficulty in finding it in patches of apparently adequate but
fragmented habitat isolated by human land uses, suggests a decline in
populations of Preble's in recent decades.
Records for Preble's meadow jumping mouse define a range including
Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Jefferson,
Larimer, and Weld Counties in Colorado; and Albany, Laramie, Platte,
Goshen, and Converse Counties in Wyoming (Krutzsch 1954, Compton and
Hugie 1993). Historical sites in Colorado were further discussed by
Meaney and Clippinger (1995), Ryon (1996), and Ryon and Harrington
(1996). Garber (1995) discussed historical sites from Wyoming and
suggested that some Zapus from Wyoming may have been misidentified. He
indicated that based on study skins alone (without skulls) positive
identification was not possible. Garber concluded that two specimens
from the University of Wyoming collection listed as Preble's were
probably Z. princeps, and that several specimens listed as Z. princeps
are believed to be Preble's.
As one might expect, given the intensity of recent surveys for
Preble's meadow jumping mouse, more individuals have been trapped in
the decade of the 1990's than were documented prior to 1990. Preble's
is thought to currently exist in seven counties in Colorado and two in
Wyoming, but it is not known to be present in three other counties in
Colorado and three counties in Wyoming where it was previously
documented.

Colorado

Recent (since 1992) presence of Preble's meadow jumping mouse in
Colorado has been documented in seven counties along the following
watercourses and their tributaries: South Boulder Creek and St. Vrain
Creek (Boulder County); Coal Creek, and Ralston Creek, and Rock Creek,
Walnut Creek and Woman Creek at Rocky Flats (Jefferson County); East
Plum Creek, West Plum Creek, and Indian Creek (Douglas County);
Monument Creek and tributaries including West Monument Creek, Smith
Creek, Beaver Creek, Pine Creek, Jackson Creek, Dirty Woman Creek, and
Cottonwood Creek (El Paso County); Lone Tree Creek (Weld County);
Rabbit Creek and Lone Pine Creek (Larimer County); and, Running Creek
(Elbert County).
A number of historical and recent records of Preble's meadow
jumping mouse exist for Boulder County. A summary of past records and a
report of 1995 survey results was provided by Armstrong et al. (1996).
In 1995, extensive surveys were conducted, through a challenge grant
cost-share agreement with the Service, to determine the presence of
Preble's on City of Boulder and Boulder County Open Space lands
supporting suitable habitat. Of 13 sites surveyed, Preble's were
captured from 2 sites, both along South Boulder Creek (Armstrong et al.
1996). In 1996, 3 Preble's were captured on City of Boulder Open Space
along South Boulder Creek, during an extensive study of grassland
biodiversity entailing 6,600 trapnights (one trap set for one night
equals one trapnight) of effort (Miller in litt. 1996). Perhaps
indicative of population fluctuations, Carron Meaney (Denver Museum of
Natural History, in litt. 1998) reported a total of 55 individual
Preble's captured during 1997 studies along South Boulder Creek.
Meaney et al. (1996) reported capturing at least seven different
Preble's meadow jumping mice at a Boulder County Open Space site on St.
Vrain Creek, the only captures on five Boulder County sites they
surveyed in 1996. A 1997 survey failed to find Preble's on a site along
St. Vrain Creek near the 1996 capture site (Meaney et al. 1997).
However, 1997 surveys conducted for the Colorado Department of
Transportation along State Highway 36 at St. Vrain Creek, and at
various wetland sites up to two miles south, resulted in captures of
Preble's in six of seven locations (Ensight Technical Services 1997).
Annual studies have taken place at Rocky Flats since the discovery
of the

[[Page 26520]]

Preble's meadow jumping mouse there in 1991 (Harrington et al. 1996).
Recent populations have been reported in all four major drainages
within the Rocky Flats buffer zone. During the 1995 field season, 61
Preble's were trapped at Rocky Flats, bringing the total number of
individual mice trapped since 1991 to 161 (Harrington pers. comm.
1995). Estimated density of Preble's in areas trapped during 1995
studies ranged up to 36 per hectare (ha) (15 per acre (ac)). Spring
1996 trapping studies at Rocky Flats, designed to document emergence
from hibernation, resulted in 29 captures of Preble's in 3,553
trapnights (PTI Environmental Service 1996a). During summer 1996
studies at Rocky Flats, 3,882 trapnights of effort resulted in capture
of only 4 Preble's (PTI Environmental Service 1996b).
During 1996 and 1997 the Colorado Natural Heritage Program reviewed
numerous sites on Jefferson County Open Space lands for potential
presence of Preble's meadow jumping mouse and trapped at eight sites.
In 1996, Preble's were captured on Jefferson County Open Space land
near the mouth of Coal Creek Canyon, west of Rocky Flats (Fleming et
al. 1996). In 1997, Preble's were captured at Ralston Creek (White
Ranch Park, Jefferson County Open Space) (Peterson 1997).
In Douglas County, Preble's meadow jumping mice were captured from
a site on East Plum Creek, near Larkspur in 1995 (Harrington 1995).
Also in 1995, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program located Preble's at
two sites, one on East Plum Creek and one on West Plum Creek, Douglas
County. Surveys in 1996 (Meaney et al. 1996) located Preble's at an
additional site on West Plum Creek south of Sedalia, and at a Colorado
Division of Wildlife property on Indian Creek (a tributary to Plum
Creek) south of Louviers. In 1997 the Colorado Natural Heritage Program
identified, through aerial photographs, 104 sites in the Plum Creek
watershed in Douglas County that appeared to have suitable Preble's
habitat. Preble's were captured on 10 of 13 private land sites trapped.
Use of a habitat relationships model provided an estimate of 30.6 miles
of occupied streamside habitat in the watershed (Chris Pague and Parker
Schuerman, The Nature Conservancy, in litt. 1998). Meaney et al. (1997)
captured Preble's at two of three sites they trapped within the Plum
Creek drainage in 1997; Willow Creek in Roxborough State Park, and a
site along East Plum Creek currently being purchased by The
Conservation Fund.
In El Paso County, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program discovered
the Preble's meadow jumping mouse on U.S. Air Force Academy lands along
Monument Creek while performing small mammal surveys in 1994. In
comprehensive 1995 studies, 67 Preble's were captured (Corn et al.
1995). Using varying assumptions regarding trapping results and habitat
available, total population estimates for Air Force Academy property of
308 and 449 Preble's were generated. These correspond to density
estimates in occupied habitat of 2.00 per ha (0.81 per ac) and 2.92 per
ha (1.18 per ac). Twenty Preble's were captured in 1996 on private land
along Smith Creek, east of the Air Force Academy (Meaney et al. 1996).
Trapping surveys submitted to the Service in 1997 from sites of
proposed construction documented Preble's within the Monument Creek
drainage off of Air Force Academy property at Monument Creek, Pine
Creek, Black Squirrel Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Dirty Woman Creek.
Meaney et al. (1997) located Preble's within the Monument Creek
drainage on Beaver Creek.
Meaney et al. (1997) reported an improved ability to recognize
suitable habitat and, by targeting mostly small drainages with dense
vegetation, captured Preble's meadow jumping mouse at 7 of 10 sites
trapped, including sites in 3 counties not known to have extant
populations. Preble's were captured at Rabbit Creek and Lone Pine
Creek, within Cherokee Park State Wildlife Management Area, Larimer
County. A single apparent Preble's was captured on private land along
Lone Tree Creek, Weld County (see discussion of genetic studies by
Riggs et al. 1997). In Elbert County, a single Preble's was found at
Hay Gulch, a tributary of Running Creek. Among sites recommended for
future surveys were the confluence of Lone Tree Creek and the South
Platte River (Weld County), and Bijou Creek, Kiowa Creek, and Running
Creek (Elbert County) (Meaney et al. 1997).

Wyoming

In Wyoming, Preble's meadow jumping mouse has been recently
documented in two counties, along Crow Creek at F.E. Warren Air Force
Base (Laramie County) and in the Lodgepole Creek drainage, within the
Medicine Bow National Forest (Albany County). The Wyoming Cooperative
Research Unit successfully captured two Preble's on F.E. Warren Air
Force Base, Laramie County, in the 1995 field season (Garber 1995).
Garber conducted Preble's surveys at four Wyoming sites during the 1995
field season. He was unable to locate any Preble's on F.E. Warren Air
Force Base, but did find Preble's at two locations in the Lodgepole
Creek drainage within the Medicine Bow National Forest in Albany
County. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program surveyed for Preble's at
Warren Air Force Base in 1996 and captured 8 apparent Preble's (see
discussion of genetic studies by Riggs et al. 1997) in 2,200 trapnights
of effort (Schuerman and Pague 1997).

Previous Federal Action

The Service included the Preble's meadow jumping mouse as a
category 2 candidate species in the 1985 Animal Notice of Review (50 FR
37958) and retained that status in subsequent notices, published in the
Federal Register on January 6, 1989 (54 FR 554), November 21, 1991 (56
FR 58810), and November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58982). In 1996 the Service
discontinued the practice of maintaining a list of category 2 species
and the Preble's did not appear in the February 28, 1996 (61 FR 7596),
Notice of Review. Category 2 species were those species for which
information in the Service's possession indicated that listing was
possibly appropriate, but for which substantive data on biological
vulnerability and threats were not available to support a proposed
rule. Candidate species are currently defined as those species for
which the Service has sufficient information on file detailing
biological vulnerability and threats to support issuance of a proposed
rule, but issuance of the proposed rule is precluded by other listing
actions.
On August 16, 1994, the Service received a petition from the
Biodiversity Legal Foundation to list the Preble's meadow jumping mouse
as endangered or threatened throughout its range and to designate
critical habitat within a reasonable amount of time following the
listing. The petitioner submitted information that Preble's populations
in Colorado and Wyoming are imperiled by: ongoing and increasing urban,
industrial, agricultural, ranching, and recreational development;
ongoing and increasing wetland/riparian habitat destruction and/or
modification; small size of known populations; and inadequacy or lack
of governmental protection for the species and its habitats.
On March 15, 1995 (60 FR 13950), the Service published notice of
the 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial information
indicating that listing the Preble's meadow jumping mouse may be
warranted, and requested comments and biological data on the status of
the mouse. On March 25, 1997, the Service issued a 12 month finding on
the petitioned action along with a

[[Page 26521]]

proposed rule to list Preble's as an endangered species and announced a
90-day public comment period (62 FR 14093). On May 5, 1997, the Service
announced three public hearings regarding the proposed rule and
extended the comment period through July 28, 1997 (62 FR 24387). The
Service reopened the public comment period on December 23, 1997, for a
period of 30 days, through January 22, 1998 (62 FR 67041).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

In the March 25, 1997, proposed rule and associated notifications,
and in subsequent notices to extend or reopen the public comment
period, all interested parties were requested to submit factual reports
or information that might contribute to the development of a final
rule. The public comment period was extended through July 28, 1997 (62
FR 24387) and reopened from December 23, 1997, through January 22, 1998
(62 FR 67041). Various Federal and State agencies, county governments,
scientific organizations, and other interested parties were contacted
and requested to comment. Newspaper notices were published in the Rocky
Mountain News (Denver, CO), the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph
(CO), the Boulder Daily Camera (CO), the Casper Star Tribune (WY), and
the Wyoming Eagle Tribune (Cheyenne, WY), which invited general public
comment and attendance at public hearings.
Public hearings were initiated by the Service and held May 19,
1997, in Cheyenne, Wyoming; May 21, 1997, in Colorado Springs,
Colorado; and May 22, 1997, in Denver, Colorado. Each hearing began
with opening comments by the Service followed by an opportunity for
public comments. In Cheyenne, 8 people attended and 1 commented; in
Colorado Springs 28 attended and 8 commented; and in Denver 27 attended
and 4 commented.
One hundred and thirty-eight written comments were received.
Significant issues are discussed below. Several individuals or groups
submitted comments in both the original and the reopened comment
periods, or during hearings and later in writing. Senator Craig Thomas
of Wyoming opposed the proposal. Two Federal agencies commented and
opposed the proposal; the Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Field
Office supported a 6-month extension of the proposed rule. The
Department of Energy's Western Area Power Administration supported a
threatened listing. Six State agencies commented, four from Wyoming and
two from Colorado. From Wyoming, three State agencies opposed the
proposal (two of the three supported an extension) and one Wyoming
agency neither supported nor opposed the proposed rule. From Colorado,
one agency opposed the proposal and supported an extension and one
neither supported nor opposed the proposed rule. Of 128 comments by
individuals or other groups, 29 supported the proposed rule, 74 opposed
it, and 25 were neutral. Five stockgrowers or farm organizations
provided comments opposing the proposal. Five of six conservation or
environmental groups supported the proposal and one was neutral.
Written comments and oral statements presented at the public
hearings and received during the comment periods are addressed in the
following summary. Comments of similar nature are grouped under a
number of general issues.
Issue 1: The Preble's meadow jumping mouse is not a valid
subspecies since genetic studies conducted to date have not
conclusively differentiated it from certain other subspecies of Z.
hudsonius.
Response: Preble's is widely recognized as a valid subspecies by
the scientific community. Genetic studies point to an aggregate of
similar Z. hudsonius populations consistent with ecological,
distributional, and morphological information on Preble's (Z. h.
preblei).
Issue 2: Preble's meadow jumping mouse identification in the field
is not possible because of the similarity between Preble's and Z.
princeps.
Response: Field identification of Zapus is difficult when attempted
by individuals not thoroughly familiar with both species. To date, no
overlap has been documented between the range of Preble's and the range
of Z. princeps in Boulder, Jefferson, Douglas, and El Paso Counties in
Colorado. These counties support the vast majority of currently known
Preble's populations. Since the two species may coexist in portions of
southeastern Wyoming, some historical records from Wyoming are
difficult to confirm. Recent genetic studies may indicate some
uncertainty regarding the identity of apparent Preble's trapped in Weld
County, Colorado and Laramie County, Wyoming. However, populations of
Zapus that are consistent morphologically and ecologically with
Preble's, will be considered Preble's by the Service pending conclusive
studies resolving the identities of the two species. Identification of
any Zapus captured in Weld County, Colorado (as well as in adjacent
Larimer County, Colorado) and in southeastern Wyoming should be
throughly documented and tissue samples should be obtained for future
genetic analysis.
Issue 3: Historical trapping records support the contention that
Preble's meadow jumping mouse has long been a rare mammal and they
provide a poor baseline from which to measure current trends in
populations.
Response: Conclusions regarding the status and trends of Preble's
made by the Service are based on the best available historical and
recent population information on Preble's, the distribution of its
preferred habitats, and on the significant threats to these habitats.
While historical records come from diverse trapping efforts that rarely
targeted Zapus, they document a former presence in locations where
Preble's is not currently found. Recent surveys of several historical
sites have failed to locate Preble's. Loss of these populations has
been attributed to changes in habitat.
Issue 4: Comprehensive trapping surveys throughout Preble's meadow
jumping mouse range are needed to ascertain its true status and
distribution.
Response: Existing data are sufficient to determine the overall
status of Preble's. Additional trapping studies will be conducted to
better document Preble's status within certain portions of its range.
Since 1992, numerous studies have addressed the status and distribution
of Preble's. Trapping studies supported by the Colorado Division of
Wildlife in 1995, 1996, and 1997 helped to document distribution of
Preble's in Colorado. In 1997 alone, more than 120 locations in
Colorado were trapped, with a minimum of 400 trapnights of effort at
each location. Limited access to private lands has hampered survey
efforts at some locations and will probably continue to do so in the
future.
Issue 5: Since Preble's exists on some sites where grazing, mowing,
and other human land uses occur, these activities should not be
considered threats.
Response: Land uses that have a dramatic adverse impact on habitats
that the Preble's meadow jumping mouse requires can present significant
threats to its existence. The relationships between human land use and
Preble's populations are undoubtedly complex and need further study.
The manner, timing, and extent of grazing or mowing may dictate what
effects these activities have on Preble's and its habitat. However,
Preble's do coexist in grazed areas such as the Medicine Bow National
Forest in Wyoming and Boulder Open Space lands in Colorado, and some
ranching and farming practices are thought likely to be

[[Page 26522]]

compatible with maintaining Preble's populations. The Service believes
that best management ranching and farming practices, which avoid
adverse affects on habitat characteristics, are compatible with many
natural resource objectives.
Issue 6: Water projects and irrigation may be beneficial to the
Preble's meadow jumping mouse, since these activities can create
wetland habitat.
Response: Preble's seems largely dependent on moist habitat with
dense vegetation in or near riparian corridors. Effects of water
projects on Preble's and its habitat can vary greatly. Water projects
can effectively eliminate, degrade, or fragment Preble's habitat.
However, activities that enhance and extend such habitat can benefit
Preble's.
Issue 7: Trapping studies are a significant threat to Preble's
meadow jumping mouse.
Response: The scientific value of trapping studies will be measured
against the threats such studies represent to Preble's. The Service
will issue permits to qualified individuals conducting approved
trapping studies on Preble's. While ``live traps'' are being used, the
Service is aware of a few mortalities associated with recent trapping.
Trapping techniques that best safeguard Preble's will be required by
the Service.
Issue 8: Predators may be a threat to the Preble's meadow jumping
mouse and should be controlled.
Response: While Preble's has co-existed with a community of
predators over time, little is known regarding the effect of predators
or competing species on Preble's populations. Human activities have
undoubtably altered predator populations. Human development may, for
example, increase numbers of great-horned owls and raccoons. However,
there is presently insufficient evidence to demonstrate that control of
predators would benefit Preble's.
Issue 9: Captive breeding and release, and relocation of the
Preble's meadow jumping mouse should be used to stabilize populations
and eliminate the need for listing.
Response: Scarcity of suitable habitat presumably limits current
Preble's distribution. Maintenance of quality habitat is the principal
conservation goal. Relocation and reintroduction of Preble's into
unoccupied sites with suitable habitat may become a part of the future
recovery of this species.
Issue 10: If the Preble's meadow jumping mouse were protected on
Federal land there would be no need to protect it on private land.
Response: The Service is working with the U.S. Air Force, the
Department of Energy, and the Forest Service to assure that
conservation of Preble's is carried out on all Federal lands on which
it currently exists. While both the Air Force Academy and Rocky Flats
support apparently stable populations of Preble's, these sites compose
a small fraction of the total Preble's range. Protection of these sites
alone would not alleviate the need for listing of Preble's or achieve
recovery.
Issue 11: Local regulations exist that currently protect the
Preble's meadow jumping mouse and its habitat.
Response: The Service has received from the Colorado Department of
Natural Resources a summary of local regulations, incentive programs,
Colorado Water Conservation Board instream flow decrees, and open space
purchase programs that help protect habitats that support Preble's. A
variety of regulations apply to activities in riparian areas and, in
effect, contribute to conservation of Preble's. However, few local
ordinances currently provide direct protection of Preble's or its
habitat. Natural areas and wildlife habitat may be considered in zoning
or development review, but most ordinances will permit significant
variance and provide for considerable latitude in interpretation. For
example, construction within the 100-year floodplain may be tightly
restricted by such measures, but the mowing, cutting, or overgrazing of
Preble's habitat is generally not addressed. The City of Boulder
wetlands protection ordinance has a specific provision designed to
protect rare and declining species including Preble's. Fort Collins
provides protection for ``endangered species habitat'' in development
review, but apparently does not address rare, declining, or threatened
species. Incentives and purchase programs contribute to riparian
conservation but afford no direct legal protection for Preble's. While
often beneficial to Preble's, public acquisition of riparian areas may,
at times, result in increased human use incompatible with Preble's.
The Service supports use of local land use regulations to conserve
Preble's and its habitat; however, the best measure of their past
effectiveness in protecting Preble's is the success of these
regulations in maintaining the integrity of riparian systems within
Preble's range. Direct and secondary effects of human activity continue
to cause alteration of riparian areas despite these protections. The
Service is currently engaged in discussions with the Colorado
Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Preble's Meadow
Jumping Mouse Working Group to determine how local regulations and
acquisition programs can be used more effectively to protect Preble's
and its habitat.
Issue 12: The Service should designate critical habitat for
Preble's meadow jumping mouse.
Response: The Service has determined that designation of critical
habitat will not provide additional benefits beyond that achieved by
the listing of Preble's at this time (see the Critical Habitat section
of this rule). The Service could reevaluate designation of critical
habitat at some future time should circumstances change and more
becomes known about Preble's, its habitat, and potential benefit to the
species to be gained from designation of critical habitat.
Issue 13: The Service should extend the proposed rule for a period
of 6 months.
Response: The Service can only extend a proposed rule when it finds
that there is a substantial disagreement among scientists knowledgeable
about the species regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the data
available relevant to the listing. The Service finds no substantial
disagreement among scientists knowledgeable about Preble's that would
serve as a basis for extension of the proposed rule.
Issue 14: The collaborative planning process for Preble's meadow
jumping mouse conservation, initiated by the State of Colorado, should
be pursued as an alternative to listing.
Response: Consistent with the spirit and intent of the 1995
``Memorandum of Agreement between the State of Colorado and the
Department of Interior Concerning Programs to Manage Colorado's
Declining Native Species,'' the Service fully supports the
collaborative planning process for Preble's conservation that is under
way in Colorado. The intent of the Memorandum of Agreement is to
facilitate and promote collaboration and cooperation in managing and
conserving fish and wildlife in Colorado. It was not intended to serve
as an alternative to listing threatened or endangered species as
required by the Endangered Species Act. The collaborative planning
process includes stakeholders from local governments, the private
sector, the State, and Federal agencies. This final rule to list
Preble's as a threatened species is not intended to discourage or
detract from this conservation effort; however, the Service recognizes
that it will take time and commitment on the part of numerous
stakeholders for this process to achieve meaningful protection of
Preble's. The Service

[[Page 26523]]

believes that, ultimately, this process will produce a conservation
plan and implementation agreements that both protect Preble's and its
habitat over the long term and will minimize regulatory and economic
effects of this listing. These products may form the basis of one or
more Habitat Conservation Plans or a rule prepared in accordance with
section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act. To this end, the Service is
providing financial support to help move this process forward.
Issue 15: Rodents are destructive and carry disease. Listing the
Preble's meadow jumping mouse may impact pest control and lead to
disease or increased crop losses.
Response: Preble's has not been implicated as a vector for human
disease. Its rarity and dependence on riparian and wetland areas
minimize its potential as a pest. Pest control efforts within and
around residences and other buildings, and in crop fields when carried
out in accordance with pesticide label restrictions, are unlikely to
conflict with Preble's conservation. However, in some cases the
application or discharge of agrichemicals, or other pollutants, and
pesticides, onto plants, soil, ground water, or other surfaces within
areas that drain into streams occupied by Preble's may result in the
deterioration of Preble's habitat and cause harm to the species. Use of
such chemicals in violation of label directions, or any use following
Service notification that such use, application or discharge is likely
to harm the species, would be evidence of unauthorized use, application
or discharge.

Peer Review

In accordance with policy promulgated July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270),
the Service solicited the expert opinions of independent specialists
regarding pertinent scientific or commercial data and assumptions
relating to the taxonomy, population models, and supportive biological
and ecological information for species under consideration for listing.
The purpose of such review is to ensure listing decisions are based on
scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses, including input
of appropriate experts and specialists.
The data and assumptions regarding the Preble's meadow jumping
mouse were reviewed by three specialists. Peer reviewers were
identified through inquiries to research institutions, universities,
and museums for individuals with recognized expertise with the subject
taxa. The reviewers were asked to comment upon specific assumptions and
conclusions regarding the species. Their comments have been
incorporated into the final rule as appropriate and are summarized
below.
One reviewer provided a context for species status over time scales
reflecting long-term climate change and effects of European settlement
within Preble's meadow jumping mouse range. The same reviewer (citing a
relative lack of species-specific trapping efforts prior to the 1990's
and geographical gaps in recent survey efforts) stated that while
conclusions regarding recent Preble's decline might be accurate, they
were not strongly supported by capture data. The reviewer suggested
that examination of the adverse changes to the riparian habitats
required by Preble's could provide additional insight to population
status and trends.
The reviewers of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse information
concluded that additional study of habitat requirements and population
biology are needed to implement effective conservation of Preble's.
Specifically, the limited knowledge of hibernation habitat requirements
was cited by two reviewers. A better understanding of Preble's movement
patterns was cited by two reviewers as important. One reviewer
emphasized that more information on Preble's food habitats is needed.
All three reviewers discussed threats to the Preble's meadow
jumping mouse. One reviewer suggested that known populations at the Air
Force Academy and Rocky Flats reflect the long-term protection of these
sites from human disturbance rather than presence of optimal Preble's
habitat. Another reviewer concluded that currently only two or three
sites supporting Preble's are adequately protected. Threats discussed
by reviewers included fragmentation of riparian corridors, gravel
mining, and alteration of water regimes and the resulting effects on
riparian vegetation.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

Section 4 of the Act and regulations (50 CFR Part 424) promulgated
to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth the procedures
for adding species to the Federal lists. A species may be determined to
be a threatened or endangered species due to one or more of the five
factors described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their
application to the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius
preblei) are as follows:
A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or
curtailment of its habitat or range. After reviewing the best
scientific data currently available, the Service believes that Preble's
meadow jumping mouse has undergone a decline in range and that
populations within its remaining range have been lost. Habitat loss and
fragmentation resulting from human land uses have adversely impacted
Preble's populations, and continue to do so. Armstrong (in litt. 1997)
concluded that the meadow jumping mouse, in this region as elsewhere,
is a habitat specialist, and that its specialized habitat is declining.
As the summary below demonstrates, a variety of known and potential
threats to its habitat have been documented.
The Colorado Natural Heritage Program ranks Preble's meadow jumping
mouse as T2, imperiled globally, and S2, imperiled in Colorado; the
Wyoming Natural Diversity database ranks Preble's as S1, critically
imperiled in Wyoming (Schuerman and Pague 1997).
A study by Compton and Hugie (1993), which was funded by the
Service, found it difficult to assess historical trends and current
status of Preble's meadow jumping mouse due to the scarcity of
demographic data. Based on their review, they recommended that Preble's
be federally listed as a threatened species. However, after a largely
unsuccessful search for suitable habitat in Wyoming and unsuccessful
trapping surveys for Preble's at five sites in southeastern Wyoming in
1993, they concluded that Preble's might be extirpated from Wyoming
(Compton and Hugie 1994). Their revised recommendation was that
Preble's be federally listed as an endangered species.
Since 1993, efforts to document existing populations of Preble's
meadow jumping mouse have increased commensurate with rising concern
over its status. Recent trapping efforts have located Preble's meadow
jumping mouse populations in some areas (Douglas, El Paso, and Elbert
counties, Colorado) where few or no historical records exist. However,
recent trapping has also failed to produce captures at historical sites
and sites with apparently suitable habitat within Preble's historical
range. Preble's is not known to be currently present in Adams,
Arapahoe, and Denver counties in Colorado where it was historically
documented.
Ryon (1996, in litt. 1997) investigated nine historical Preble's
meadow jumping mouse capture sites in six Colorado counties through
trapping and site history. Ryon concluded that Preble's was absent at
all nine sites and related absence of Preble's to changes in habitat
(see also Ryon and Harrington

[[Page 26524]]

1996). Specific human activities impacting habitat at these sites
included real estate development, highway construction, stream
alteration, and grazing. In addition, offsite impacts may have caused
isolation of sites that rendered them unsuitable for Preble's. Ryon
concluded that the range of Preble's has decreased, especially adjacent
to or east of the Interstate Highway 25 urban corridor.
Extensive studies of public lands in Boulder County in 1995
resulted in capture of 23 Preble's, on 2 of 13 sites surveyed, in
17,800 trapnights of effort (Armstrong et al. 1996). Sites were
selected, in part, based on documented historical presence and
perceived quality of habitat. Among the authors' conclusions were that
Preble's is not abundant in the Colorado Piedmont of Boulder County and
that suitable habitat appeared to be present on some sites where
trapping was unsuccessful.
Recent surveys for Preble's meadow jumping mouse at certain other
sites with potential habitat in Colorado have been unsuccessful in
documenting presence. Surveys funded and carried out by the Department
of the Army at the Army's Fort Carson Military Reservation in El Paso
and Pueblo counties resulted in no Preble's captures despite 3,311
trapnights of effort in apparently suitable habitat (Bunn et al. 1995).
Private researchers and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
personnel found no Preble's in limited surveys of seemingly adequate
habitats within the Forest Service's Pawnee National Grassland in
northern Weld County (Harrington pers. comm. 1995).
Patterns of capture suggest that populations may fluctuate over
time at occupied sites (Shenk in litt. 1998). This raises questions
regarding security of documented populations and significance of
unsuccessful trapping reports. However, trapping surveys provide the
best available information regarding current status and distribution of
Preble's.
Over 150 surveys for Preble's meadow jumping mouse have been
conducted in recent years at locations where development is
anticipated. In 1997, results of 104 Colorado surveys were submitted to
the Service for proposed or potential development sites that supported
potential Preble's habitat. Nine of 35 surveys in El Paso County, 7 of
19 in Boulder County, and 1 of 17 from Jefferson County documented
Preble's presence. All successful surveys in El Paso County were on
Monument Creek and its tributaries upstream from (north of) downtown
Colorado Springs. In contrast, approximately 15 trapping studies from
El Paso County downstream of the Cottonwood Creek and Monument Creek
confluence (on Monument Creek, Fountain Creek, and their tributaries)
failed to document Preble's. Six of 7 successful Boulder County surveys
were near a 2-mile segment of State Highway 36 near Lyons (Ensight
Technical Services 1997). Thirty-three 1997 surveys from Adams,
Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Larimer, and Weld counties failed to locate
Preble's. Fragmentation and isolation of habitat have apparently caused
local extirpation of Preble's in highly developed areas. Shenk (in
litt. 1998) suggested that development of the Denver metropolitan area
has created a north-south gap in Preble's range.
In contrast to surveys above at anticipated development sites,
Meaney et al. (1997) targeted likely Preble's meadow jumping mouse
habitat throughout its known range and successfully trapped Preble's at
7 of 10 sites in 1997. Their results filled gaps regarding Preble's
status in north-central Colorado and suggest that their ability to
identify Preble's habitat has improved over their 1995 and 1996 efforts
which found Preble's at 0 of 10 and 4 of 10 sites respectively.
While historical status in Wyoming is less clear (Garber 1995),
Preble's meadow jumping mouse is not currently known from its former
range in Albany, Goshen, and Natrona counties. Garber documented
Preble's persisting at only two Wyoming sites, commented on the
difficulty of capturing Preble's at these sites, and concluded that
substantial additional work was needed to fully determine the status of
Preble's in Wyoming. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Bill Wichers
in litt. 1997) concurred with the conclusion that Preble's has likely
been extirpated from most or all of its historical range in Wyoming.
Trapping surveys provide evidence that the Preble's meadow jumping
mouse has declined throughout portions of its range. This decline and
future threats to existing Preble's populations are linked to
widespread habitat alteration. The Colorado Piedmont east of the Front
Range and adjacent areas of southeastern Wyoming have changed from
predominantly prairie habitat intermixed with perennial and
intermittent streams and associated riparian habitats, to a more
agricultural and urban setting with grazing, residential, commercial,
industrial, and recreational development. The Colorado Front Range
urban corridor represents only about 4 percent of the State's land area
but supports 80 percent of its population (Wright 1993). Unfortunately,
this area of development corresponds almost directly to known Preble's
range. Fueled by human population increases, an increase of 1 million
people is estimated by 2020, development in this area continues at an
unprecedented rate.
Compton and Hugie (1993, 1994) cited human activities that have
adversely impacted Preble's meadow jumping mouse including: conversion
of grasslands to farms; livestock grazing; water development and
management practices; and residential and commercial development. They
mentioned the effects of urbanization occurring from Colorado Springs,
Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a continuing threat to remaining
populations. Ryon (1995) commented that recent capture sites he
observed were on large, historically undisturbed lands supporting
native plant communities.
Shenk (in litt. 1998) linked potential threats to ecological
requirements of Preble's meadow jumping mouse and suggested that
factors which impacted vegetation composition and structure, riparian
hydrology, habitat structure, distribution, geomorphology, and animal
community composition must be addressed in any conservation strategy.
Some researchers hypothesize that overgrazing by livestock may be
an important cause of the decline of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse.
Compton and Hugie (1994) stated that in southeastern Wyoming almost all
private land of appropriate topography and hydrology to support
Preble's habitat was heavily grazed by livestock and that overgrazing
was the most significant factor in reducing habitat for Preble's. While
not mentioning grazing specifically, the Wyoming Game and Fish
Commission (Wichers in litt. 1997) cited riparian degradation as the
primary cause of Preble's decline in Wyoming and stated that the
situation would not improve without active management. Ryon (1996)
cited livestock grazing as a contributor to lack of structural habitat
diversity he observed on historical Preble's sites in Colorado. Two of
the largest documented populations of Preble's exist on Federal
properties (Rocky Flats and the U.S. Air Force Academy) where livestock
grazing is excluded.
The importance of ``late season obesity'' (the buildup of fat
reserves) in meadow jumping mice and its positive correlation to
hibernation survival, post-hibernation development, and successful
reproduction has been well documented (Nichols and Conley 1982,
Muchlinski 1980). Preble's meadow jumping mice entering hibernation
with

[[Page 26525]]

low fat reserves are less likely to survive the winter or to
successfully breed the following spring. Late season grazing of
Preble's habitat, as well as mowing or burning, could adversely affect
Preble's by reducing the availability of food resources essential for
buildup of fat reserves.
City of Boulder Open Space lands endured intensive grazing,
farming, or haying regimes until they became part of the City of
Boulder Open Space system. Grazing and haying continue on sites
supporting the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, largely as land
management tools. Impacts of current management practices to Preble's
and their habitats are largely unknown.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse has been documented to coexist on
sites supporting grazing, including the Medicine Bow National Forest in
Wyoming and Plum Creek, Douglas County, in Colorado. Armstrong et al.
(1997) suggested that timing and intensity of grazing are probably
important factors in maintaining Preble's habitat and that maintenance
of woody vegetative cover may be a key consideration.
Human development has produced profound changes in the hydrology of
streams flowing east from the Colorado Front Range. Riparian habitat on
which the Preble's meadow jumping mouse depends is in turn dependent on
surface flows and groundwater. Water development and management in its
various forms can alter Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat, often,
but not always, with adverse impacts. Fitzgerald et al. (1994) stated
that inundation of riparian areas to create reservoirs had decreased
available Preble's habitat. Compton and Hugie (1993) concluded that
management of water for commercial and residential use tends to
channelize and isolate water resources, and has reduced in size and
fragmented riparian habitats used by Preble's. They found development
of irrigated farmland had a negative impact on Preble's habitat, and
that any habitat creation it produced was minimal. However, Preble's
has been shown to use overgrown water conveyance ditches and pond edges
and may use ditches for dispersal (Meaney et al. 1997, Shenk in litt.
1998).
Water diversions and associated land use changes can impact
Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat directly, as well as through
hydrologic alterations to Preble's habitat located downstream. While an
integrated natural resource management plan at the Air Force Academy
includes specific provisions for Preble's conservation, Corn et al.
(1995) expressed concern over the hydrologic integrity of Monument
Creek and its tributaries because of activities upstream of the Air
Force Academy. Flood control, through the placement of riprap and other
structural stabilization options, has been proposed on areas that
support Preble's, including portions of Monument Creek and its
tributaries.
While Rocky Flats supports one of the largest known populations of
Preble's meadow jumping mouse and has served as a refuge for Preble's,
the future conservation of Preble's at this site is uncertain due to
possible impacts to occupied habitats. Without careful planning,
Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitats at Rocky Flats could be impacted
by the Department of Energy's planned bioremediation (the
detoxification of toxic substances using biological agents) and
hazardous contaminant cleanup, associated water management practices
designed to contain hazardous materials spills and prevent their
migration offsite, and dam safety and maintenance activities. An
additional threat is potential disruption of the current hydrology by
mining operations. There are proposals to expand existing commercial
sand and gravel extraction and processing activities in the Rock Creek
drainage both outside and within the boundary of Rocky Flats. The
Department of Energy does not control mineral rights on the land in
question. The Service is currently working with the Department of
Energy to provide permanent protection of Preble's habitat at Rocky
Flats.
Alluvial aggregate extraction, often in or near riparian habitats,
continues to expand as development intensifies along the Colorado Front
Range. Ryon (1996) and Armstrong et al. (1997) suggested that such
mining can destroy and fragment Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat.
Armstrong (in litt. 1997) suggested that mining impacts are significant
and, unlike some other human uses, cause permanent changes to Preble's
habitat. Mining also targets gravel deposits that may provide key
hibernation sites.
Residential and commercial development, accompanied by highway and
bridge construction, and instream alterations to implement flood
control, directly remove Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat, or
reduces, alters, fragments, and isolates habitat to the point where
Preble's meadow jumping mouse can no longer persist. Corn et al. (1995)
proposed that a 100 m (328 ft) buffer of unaltered habitat be
established to protect the floodplain of Monument Creek from a range of
human activities that might adversely effect Preble's or its habitat.
At some historical capture sites, habitat appears intact, but isolation
has probably rendered the sites unsuitable for Preble's (Ryon 1996).
Roads, trails, or other linear development through Preble's habitat may
act as barriers to movement. Shenk (1998) suggested that on a landscape
scale, maintenance of acceptable dispersal corridors linking patches of
Preble's habitat may be critical to its conservation.
Development and heavy use of trails within occupied Preble's meadow
jumping mouse habitats may impact the species by destroying its
habitat, nests, and food resources, or by disrupting behavior.
Recreational trail systems have been established or are proposed along
many riparian corridors within Preble's range. Heavily used
recreational trails currently exist on City of Boulder Open Space
lands, including sites that support Preble's. A current study near a
new paved trail along South Boulder Creek is assessing impacts to a
known Preble's population (Meaney in litt. 1998).
Habitat alteration may encourage invasion of weeds. While little is
known regarding impact of invasive, nonnative vegetation on Preble's
meadow jumping mouse, Ryon (1996) expressed concern and Garber (1995)
stated that this may represent one of the most serious problems facing
the mouse. Corn et al. (1995) discussed both the problem of invasive
weeds degrading Preble's habitat and the potential problem of weed
control programs removing cover and thereby impacting Preble's habitat.
In summary after reviewing the best scientific data currently
available, the Service finds that Preble's meadow jumping mouse has
undergone a decline in range and that populations within its remaining
range have been lost. Habitat alteration, degradation, loss, and
fragmentation resulting from residential, commercial, recreational,
flood control and water development, and agricultural and livestock
grazing land uses have adversely impacted and fragmented Preble's
populations. Significant threats to the continued existence of Preble's
are also posed by hazardous materials, mining, and highway and bridge
construction. This species is also highly susceptible to localized
extinction from naturally occurring events such as flooding, predation,
and disease outbreaks.
B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or
educational purposes. The Preble's meadow jumping mouse has no known
commercial or recreational value. Scientific and educational collecting
has not been widespread over the past century. While

[[Page 26526]]

the Service is aware of a small amount of incidental mortality
associated with recent scientific studies, this is not thought to
present a threat to Preble's populations.
C. Disease or predation. The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, as well
as other native rodents, carries parasites and diseases that may reduce
vigor, curtail reproductive success, and cause death. There is no
evidence whether or not any epizootic disease has caused significant
impact to Preble's. While plague is regularly found in other rodent
species within Preble's range, its impact to Preble's populations is
not known.
Predation on the Preble's meadow jumping mouse has always existed
as a naturally occurring association between predator and prey. While
evidence is scant, human development may have altered this
relationship. Armstrong et al. (1996) recommended studies be conducted
on influences of the suburban environment and associated densities of
species such as striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), raccoon (Procyon
lotor), and the domestic cat (Felis catus) on Preble's. Free-ranging
domestic cats may locally present a problem to Preble's. Corn et al.
(1995) recommended a 1.5 km (.9 mi) setback of housing development from
Preble's habitat to exclude predation by ``house cats.'' As an
alternative they suggested a strict prohibition on free-ranging cats.
More information is needed about the effects from predation by domestic
and feral cats, and perhaps dogs (Canis familiaris), on Preble's.
D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. The decline of
the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is partially due to the inherent
weakness or non-application of the existing laws and regulations that
could serve to protect Preble's and its habitat. Relevant Federal laws
include the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Federal Power Act,
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Food Security Act, and National
Environmental Policy Act. Federal regulations and policies have limited
protection authority and scope for non-listed species. These statutes
only recommend, not require, that projects carried out, funded, or
permitted by the Federal government attempt to mitigate impacts to
species of special concern due to scarcity or decline.
Colorado Division of Wildlife Regulations (Chapter 10, Article IV)
classify Z. hudsonius as a ``nongame'' species. This designation means
that permits must be obtained for take of Preble's meadow jumping mouse
related to scientific, educational, or rehabilitation purposes.
Preble's is a ``species of special concern'' in Colorado; however, this
is not a statutory designation. Preble's is currently under
consideration for endangered species designation in Colorado. In
Wyoming, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has classified Z.
hudsonius as a nongame species protected under Wyoming Game and Fish
Department Nongame Wildlife Regulations promulgated by WF23-1-103 and
23-1-302. This designation protects Preble's from takings and sales by
only issuing permits for the purpose of scientific collection. While
the above regulations limit the taking of Preble's, they provide no
measures to protect the species' habitats. State listing encourages
State agencies to allocate funds and exercise authority to achieve
recovery, stimulate research, and allow redirection of priorities
within State natural resource departments. However, without additional
measures to protect habitat, such State laws are generally inadequate.
There are few regional or local laws, regulations, or ordinances
that specifically protect Preble's meadow jumping mouse or its habitat
from inadvertent or intentional adverse impacts. A myriad of local
regulations, incentive programs, and open space programs exist, as
documented in materials forwarded to the Service by the Colorado
Department of Natural Resources. While certain regulations are designed
to conserve wetlands or floodplains, it is unlikely that they
effectively control land uses (grazing, mowing, cutting, burning) that
may impact vegetation on which Preble's depends. Further, Preble's may
be dependent on hibernacula sites outside the protected wetlands or
floodplains. Many existing local regulations create a process of site
plan review which ``considers'' or ``encourages'' conservation of
wildlife, wetlands, and natural habitats. Effectiveness of local
regulations in maintaining naturally functioning riparian corridors may
vary greatly depending on how these apparently flexible regulations are
implemented. Beyond direct impact to Preble's habitat, secondary
impacts of development (increased recreational use, altered flow
regimes and groundwater levels, and increase in domestic predators) may
not currently be addressed at the local level.
Of note is the 1997 creation of a Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse
Working Group, organized by the Colorado Department of Natural
Resources to initiate a collaborative planning process designed to
produce a legally and scientifically sound approach to conservation of
Preble's. This effort is supported in part by appropriations from
Congress, specifically for the Preble's planning process. The Service
is an active participant in this process and is fully supportive of the
goal of developing a Preble's conservation plan and implementing
agreements. However, there are no such plans or agreements currently in
place. The Service anticipates that this planning process may lead to
the creation of one or more Habitat Conservation Plans or to the
application of the Service's discretionary rule-making authority
pursuant to section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act.
E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued
existence. Use of pesticides and herbicides has undoubtably increased
across known Preble's meadow jumping mouse range as human land use has
intensified. These chemicals could directly poison Preble's or may be
ingested through contaminated food or water. Specific impacts to
Preble's from pesticides and herbicides are not currently known.
Intensive human development creates a range of additional environmental
impacts (including but not limited to noise, and the degradation of air
and water quality) that could alter Preble's behavior, increase the
levels of stress, and ultimately contribute to loss of vigor or death
of individuals, and extirpation of populations.
In summary, the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, historically a rare
mammal, has declined. Seven counties in Colorado and two in Wyoming are
known to support Preble's populations. Riparian habitats required to
support Preble's have been severely modified or destroyed by human
activities in many areas east of the Colorado Front Range and in
southeastern Wyoming. With current human population increases, the loss
and modification of riparian habitat continues. Existing regulations
have proven to be inadequate to protect Preble's, as witnessed by its
apparent decline and the continued destruction and modification of its
habitats.
The Service has carefully assessed the best scientific and
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and
future threats faced by this species in developing this rule. Based on
this evaluation, the preferred action is to list the Preble's meadow
jumping mouse as a threatened species. The Service has determined that
the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is likely to become endangered within
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its
range and therefore meets the requirements to be listed as threatened.
Based on 1997

[[Page 26527]]

survey data, Preble's is now known to exist in several additional sites
in Colorado. In addition, 1997 studies in Douglas County, Colorado,
suggest substantial occupied habitat exists along East Plum Creek and
West Plum Creek. For this reason, the Service believes that a
designation as threatened more accurately reflects the threats facing
this species than the endangered status that was identified in the
March 25, 1997, proposed rule. The Service knows of no substantial
disagreement among scientists knowledgeable about Preble's regarding
the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to this
determination, which would serve as a basis for extension of the
proposed rule. Critical habitat is not being proposed for the reasons
stated below.

Critical Habitat

Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) the
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at
the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found
those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation
of the species and (II) that may require special management
considerations or protection; and, (ii) specific areas outside the
geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon
a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of
the species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and
procedures needed to bring the species to the point at which listing
under the Act is no longer necessary.
Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent
and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at the time
the species is determined to be endangered or threatened. Service
regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that designation of critical
habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations
exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity,
and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the
degree of threat to the species, or (2) such designation of critical
habitat would not be beneficial to the species. The Service finds that
designation of critical habitat is not prudent for Preble's meadow
jumping mouse for the reasons described below.
Critical habitat receives consideration under section 7 of the Act
with regard to actions carried out, authorized, or funded by a Federal
agency (see Available Conservation Measures section). As such,
designation of critical habitat may affect activities on Federal lands
and may affect activities on non-Federal lands where such a Federal
nexus exists. Potential benefits of critical habitat designation derive
from section 7(a)(2) of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in
consultation with the Service, to ensure that their actions are not
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or to
result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat
of such species.
Critical habitat, by definition, applies only to Federal agency
actions. 50 CFR 402.02 defines ``jeopardize the continued existence
of'' as meaning to engage in an action that would reasonably be
expected, directly or indirectly, to reduce appreciably the likelihood
of both the survival and recovery of a listed species in the wild by
reducing the reproduction, numbers, or distribution of that species.
Both jeopardizing the continued existence of a species and adverse
modification of critical habitat have similar standards and thus
similar thresholds for violation of section 7 of the Act. In the
section 7(a)(2) consultation process, the jeopardy analysis focuses on
potential effects on the species' populations, whereas the destruction
or adverse modification analysis focuses on habitat value, specifically
on those constituent elements identified in the critical habitat
listing.
Common to both jeopardy and destruction or adverse modification
biological opinions is the requirement that the Service find an
appreciable effect on both the species' survival and recovery. This is
in contrast to the public perception that the adverse modification
standard sets a lower threshold for violation of section 7 than that
for jeopardy. Thus, Federal actions satisfying the standard for adverse
modification are nearly always found to also jeopardize the species
concerned, and the existence of designated critical habitat does not
materially affect the outcome of consultation. Biological opinions that
conclude that a Federal agency action is likely to adversely modify
critical habitat but is not likely to jeopardize the species for which
it is designated are extremely rare historically; none have been issued
in recent years. Thus, the Service believes that, from a section 7
consultation perspective, little or no additional conservation benefit
would be achieved for Preble's meadow jumping mouse by the designation
of critical habitat.
Additionally, designation of critical habitat provides protection
only on Federal lands or on non-Federal lands when there is Federal
involvement, through authorization or funding or participation, in a
project or activity. Four populations of the Preble's meadow jumping
mouse are located on Federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest
Service, U.S. Air Force and the Department of Energy. These agencies
are aware of the species' occurrence at these sites and the requirement
to consult with the Service. The Department of Energy (DOE) at Rocky
Flats and the Air Force Academy have both been active in Preble's
meadow jumping mouse survey, research and conservation. The DOE
continues to study Preble's at Rocky Flats, has mapped occupied and
potential habitat, and is developing a PMJM Protection Plan for the
facility. The Air Force Academy has been active in surveying for
Preble's and continues to support research into habitat use including
radio tracking of animals. Warren Air Force Base and the Forest Service
have supported some survey work with additional work remaining to be
accomplished. In each case these facilities, Rocky Flats and the Air
Force Academy, both of which support important populations, are well
aware of their responsibilities regarding section 7. The designation of
critical habitat would provide no change in their present operations
and impart no additional benefit. Therefore, informing these agencies
of the species location and need to consult is unnecessary.
Designation of critical habitat provides no limitations or
constraints on private landowners if there is no Federal nexus, and, as
such, provides the species no benefit. Activities on private lands
rarely have a federal nexus. A Federal nexus may in some cases be found
for parcels of lands where there is an activity either funded,
authorized or permitted by a Federal agency. Under the Clean Water Act
section 404 a permit is required for any activity resulting in the
discharge of dredge and fill material from jurisdictional waters.
Generally such activities on small parcels of private lands are
excluded from individual permit requirements under the Corps section
404 Nationwide Permit program. In all cases where there is a Federal
nexus to an activity occurring on private lands, any underlying Federal
action (the issuance of a permit) triggering the standard for adverse
modification would also be found to trigger the jeopardy standard, with
the existence of designated critical habitat not materially affecting
the outcome of consultation. Therefore such designation of critical
habitat on balance would not afford the Preble's meadow jumping mouse
any additional benefit.

[[Page 26528]]

Expansive blocks of public lands ensures that Federally sponsored
activities will receive the benefit of section 7 consultation,
regardless of whether or not critical habitat is designated. Protection
of the habitat of the species will also be addressed through the Act's
recovery process. Only through the recovery process will a recovery
plan be created that will prescribe specific management actions and the
establishment of numerical population goals. In addition, the
landowners may choose to develop a habitat conservation plan through
the section 10 permitting process that will manage for the conservation
of the species. Thus, protection of habitat can be addressed through
the recovery, section 10 and section 7 consultation processes, and
designation of critical habitat would afford the Preble's meadow
jumping mouse no additional benefit.
Listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse as a threatened
species also publicizes the present vulnerability of this species and,
thus, can be reasonably expected to increase the threat of vandalism or
intentional destruction of the species habitat. In light of the
vulnerability of this species to vandalism or the intentional
destruction of its habitat (for example poisoning, lethal trapping,
burning or cutting of habitat), the designation of critical habitat in
and of itself and the publication of maps providing its precise
locations and descriptions of essential elements, as required for the
designation of critical habitat, would reasonably be expected to
increase the degree of threat to the species and its habitat, increase
the difficulties of law enforcement, and further contribute to the
decline of Preble's.
The Service acknowledges that critical habitat may provide some
minor benefit in that it may identify areas important to a species,
call attention to those areas in special need of protection and
contribute a positive influence for securing funding or land
acquisitions, etc., if a parcel of land is designated as critical
habitat. However, in this case, where identification of such areas is
expected to exacerbate a potentially serious additional threat
(vandalism), information regarding the special needs of the species for
protection can be disseminated more effectively through alternative
means, and such designation could also impart negative connotations and
dissuade people from participating in conservation activities simply
because an area is designated critical habitat.
Therefore, because of the increased threat of taking, the fact that
designation of critical habitat would provide little different or
greater benefit than that provided by the jeopardy standard under
section 7 regulations, and that any minor benefits accruing from such
designation are outweighed by its negative effects, the Service has
determined that the designation of critical habitat for the Preble's
meadow jumping mouse is not prudent.
The Service will continue its efforts to obtain more information on
Preble's meadow jumping mouse biology and ecology, including essential
habitat characteristics, current and historical distribution, and
existing and potential sites that can contribute to conservation of the
species. The information resulting from this effort will be used to
identify measures needed to achieve conservation of the species, as
defined under the Act. Such measures could include, but are not limited
to, development of conservation agreements with the States, other
Federal agencies, local governments, and private landowners and
organizations.

Available Conservation Measures

Conservation measures provided to a species listed as endangered or
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions,
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and
conservation actions by Federal, State, and local agencies, private
organizations, and individuals. The Act provides for possible land
acquisition, cooperation with the States, and requires that recovery
actions be carried out for all listed species. The protection required
of Federal agencies and the prohibitions against taking and harm are
discussed, in part, below.
Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as
endangered or threatened, and with respect to its critical habitat, if
any is being designated. Regulations implementing this interagency
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402.
Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to insure that activities
they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the
continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its
critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or
its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into
formal consultation with the Service.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse occurs on lands administered by
the U.S. Air Force, Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado
Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, Boulder County, Jefferson
County, City of Boulder, and on private lands. For Federal lands where
Preble's occur, the Act would require the appropriate land management
agency to evaluate potential impacts to Preble's that may result from
activities they authorize or permit. The Act requires consultation
under section 7 of the Act for activities on Federal, State, county, or
private lands, including tribal lands, that may impact the survival and
recovery of Preble's, if such activities are funded, authorized,
carried out, or permitted by Federal agencies. The Federal agencies
that may be involved as a result of this proposed rule include the
Service, Department of Energy, Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land
Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Army, Department
of the Air Force, Office of Surface Mining, Western Area Power
Administration, Rural Utilities Service, Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal
Highway Commission, and Environmental Protection Agency. Federally
listing Preble's as a threatened species will require these agencies to
consider potential impacts to Preble's prior to approval of any
activity authorized or permitted by them (e.g., Clean Water Act's
section 404 permits, grazing management, military maneuvers,
bioremediation and hazardous materials cleanup, mining permitting and
expansion, highway construction, etc.).
Federal agency actions that may require consultation as described
in the preceding paragraph include: removing, thinning or altering
vegetation; implementing livestock grazing management that alters
vegetation during warm seasons; construction of roads or access along
or through riparian areas; channelization and other alteration of
perennial and intermittent streams and their hydrological regimes for
flood control and other water management purposes; permanent and
temporary damming of streams to create water storage reservoirs or
deviate the stream's course; human activities in or near Preble's
meadow jumping mouse habitats; construction of residential, commercial,
and industrial developments, including roads, bridges, public utilities
and telephone lines, pipelines, and other structures; bioremediation
and hazardous materials

[[Page 26529]]

management, containment, and cleanup efforts such as those at Rocky
Flats; and, sand and gravel and other types of mining activities within
or upstream of Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitats.
The Act and implementing regulations set forth a series of general
prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all listed wildlife. The
prohibitions codified at 50 CFR 17.21, in part, make it illegal for any
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take
(including harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap,
capture, or collect; or attempt any of these), import or export, ship
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It
also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship
any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions
apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities
involving listed wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations
governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.23. Such permits
are available for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or
survival of the species, and/or incidental take in connection with
otherwise lawful activities. Information collections associated with
these permits are approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C.
3501 et seq., and assigned Office and Management and Budget clearance
number 1018-0094. For additional information concerning these permits
and associated requirements, see 50 CFR 17.32.
Requests for copies of the regulations regarding listed wildlife
and inquiries about prohibitions and permits may be addresses to U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center,
Denver, Colorado 80225 (telephone 303/236-8155, Facsimile 303/236-
8192).
The Service adopted a policy on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to
identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is
listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation
of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase
public awareness of the effect of the listing on proposed and ongoing
activities within a species' range. The Service believes that, based
upon the best available information, the following actions will not
result in a violation of section 9, provided these activities are
carried out in accordance with existing regulations and permit
requirements:
(1) Activities authorized, funded, or carried out by Federal
agencies (e.g., grazing management, agricultural conversions, wetland
and riparian habitat modification, flood and erosion control, mineral
development, housing and commercial development, recreational trail
development, road and dam construction, hazardous material containment
and cleanup activities, prescribed burns, pest control activities,
pipelines or utility lines crossing riparian/wet meadow habitats,
logging, military maneuvers and training) when such activity is
conducted in accordance with any incidental take statement prepared by
the Service in accordance with section 7 of the Act;
(2) Activities such as grazing management, flood and erosion
control, agricultural conversions, wetland and riparian habitat
modification, mineral development, housing and commercial development,
road and dam construction, recreational trail development, hazardous
material containment and cleanup activities, prescribed burns, pest
control activities, pipelines or utility lines crossing riparian/wet
meadow habitats, logging, military maneuvers and training when such
activity does not occur in habitats suitable for the survival and
recovery of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, does not alter
downstream hydrology or riparian habitat supporting Preble's, and does
not result in actual death or injury to the species by significantly
modifying essential behavioral patterns;
(3) Within the hibernation period and outside denning areas,
controlled burns and mowing, or other activities that temporarily alter
the Preble's meadow jumping mouse food sources. The period when mowing
and burning activities would not impact the Preble's meadow jumping
mouse nourishment may vary at specific locations, but would usually
fall between October 15 and April 15 of every year;
(4) Human recreational activities undertaken on foot or horseback
at breeding, feeding, and hibernating sites that do not degrade
Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat (e.g., waterfowl hunting, bird
watching, sightseeing, photography, camping, hiking); and,
(5) Application of pesticides in accordance with label
instructions, in areas that do not drain into Preble's meadow jumping
mouse habitats.
Activities that the Service believes could potentially result in a
violation of section 9 include, but are not limited to:
(1) Unauthorized or unpermitted collecting, handling, harassing, or
taking of the species;
(2) Activities that directly or indirectly result in the actual
death or injury death of Preble's meadow jumping mice, or that modify
the known habitat of the species, thereby significantly modifying
essential behavioral patterns (e.g., plowing, mowing, or cutting;
conversion of wet meadow or riparian habitats to residential,
commercial, industrial, recreational areas, or cropland; overgrazing;
road and trail construction; water development or impoundment; mineral
extraction or processing; off-highway vehicle use; and, hazardous
material cleanup or bioremediation); when such activities are not
carried out pursuant to either a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit issued by
the Service; a protective regulation issued under section 4(d)
necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species, or in
accordance with any reasonable and prudent measures given by the
Service under section 7(b)(4)(C)(ii) of the Act.
(3) The application or discharge of agrichemicals, or other
pollutants, and pesticides, onto plants, soil, ground water, or other
surfaces in violation of label directions, or any use following Service
notification that such use, application or discharge is likely to harm
the species; would be evidence of unauthorized use, application or
discharge.
Questions regarding whether specific activities, such as changes in
land use, will constitute a violation of section 9 should be directed
to the Colorado Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).
The prohibition against intentional and unintentional ``take'' of
listed species applies to all landowners regardless of whether or not
their lands are within designated critical habitat (see 16 U.S.C.
1538(a)(1), 1532(1a) and 50 CFR 17.3). Section 10(a)(1)(B) authorizes
the Service to issue permits for the taking of listed species
incidental to otherwise lawful activities such as agriculture, surface
mining, and urban development. Take permits authorized under section 9
must be supported by a habitat conservation plan (HCP) under section 10
that identifies conservation measures that the permittee agrees to
implement to conserve the species, usually on the permittee's lands.
The Service would approve an HCP, and issue a section 10(a)(1)(B)
permit only if the plan would minimize and mitigate the impacts of the
taking and would not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival
and recovery of that species in the wild.

National Environmental Policy Act

The Service has determined that Environmental Assessments and
Environmental Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the

[[Page 26530]]

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in
connection with regulations adopted pursuant to Section 4(a) of the
Act. A notice outlining the Service's reasons for this determination
was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR
49244).

Required Determinations

The Service has examined this regulation under the Paperwork
Reduction Act of 1995 and found it to contain no information collection
requirements. This rulemaking was not subject to review by the Office
of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

References Cited

A complete list of all references cited is available upon request
from the Colorado Field Office (see ADDRESSES above).
Author. The primary author of this document is Peter Plage of the
Colorado Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

Accordingly, the Service amends part 17, subchapter B of chapter I,
title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as amended, as set forth
below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C.
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

2. Section 17.11(h) is amended by adding the following, in
alphabetical order under Mammals, to the List of Endangered and
Threatened Wildlife to read as follows:


Sec. 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
(h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Species Vertebrate
-------------------------------------------------------- population where Critical Special
Historic range endangered or Status When listed habitat rules
Common name Scientific name threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mammals:


* * * * * * *
Mouse, Preble's meadow Zapus hudsonius U.S.A. (CO, WY).... ......do........... T 636 NA NA
jumping. preblei.

* * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dated: May 8, 1998.
John G. Rogers,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 98-12828 Filed 5-12-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P