FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 17, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright



U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PROPOSES TO LIST THE

ST. ANDREW BEACH MOUSE AS ENDANGERED

St. Andrew beach mouse
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add a rare wild beach mouse, native to a section of Florida's central panhandle coast, to the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.

The St. Andrew beach mouse, with its white feet, large ears, and black eyes, is one of seven subspecies of beach mice that occur only in coastal sand dunes where they excavate burrows and feed on plant seeds and insects. Unlike house mice, beach mice do not seek out human dwellings or other structures for food and shelter.

The St. Andrew beach mouse once ranged over a coastal area that extended nearly 54 miles in the Florida panhandle -- from the St. Joseph Peninsula in Gulf County through Crooked Island in Bay County. Their existing range has been reduced by almost two-thirds and no more than 500 of these animals are thought to remain, all within the St. Joseph Peninsula.

Threats to the St. Andrew beach mouse are habitat loss and modification from a combination of hurricanes, tropical storms, non-storm-related shoreline erosion, as well as development and related activities. Other threats include predation by free-ranging domestic cats and competition from house mice.

If listed, the St. Andrew beach mouse will join five other beach mice that are currently protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Gulf County, and Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases control some habitat within the historic range of the St. Andrew beach mouse and have already begun habitat protection and restoration initiatives. Listing will provide further protection for the species and its habitat and make additional resources available for use in its recovery.

Efforts to conserve and restore coastal sand dunes, in addition to benefitting beach mice and other wildlife, improves the coastline's aesthetic value to beach-goers and landowners and provides a physical buffer against storm surge associated with severe weather.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to decide within one year of the publication of the proposed listing, whether to finalize regulatory protection for the St. Andrew beach mouse or to withdraw the proposal. During this period, the Service, if requested, may hold at least one public hearing on the proposed rule.

The public, concerned government agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties may also, at any time during the open comment period, submit additional data, comments, and suggestions concerning the proposal to list the St. Andrew beach mouse as endangered. Such correspondence should be forwarded by December 16, 1997, to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216.

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Release #: R97-92


1997 News Releases

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