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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


Date: August 30, 2001

Contacts: Pete Plage (CO) 303-236-4750
Mary Jennings (WY) 307-772-2374 x32
Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-7917 ext 408


Special Rule and Proposed Amendment Announced for
Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to amend a recently released special rule in order to allow noxious weed control and ditch maintenance activities to continue in areas inhabited by the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

If finalized, the proposed amendments would become part of a special 4(d) rule issued under the Endangered Species Act earlier this year defining the conditions under which rodent control, agricultural operations, landscape maintenance and other activities that could result in incidental take of the mouse are allowed.

The range-wide exemption for noxious weed control would include appropriate limitations designed to prevent eradication of plant communities on which Preble’s depends. The Service believes this exemption would help conserve and recover Preble’s because noxious weeds are displacing desirable natural vegetation on which Preble’s depends for survival.

The limited exemption for customary ditch maintenance activities is designed to provide relief to those who must maintain active ditches and to assure that currently existing Preble’s habitat along ditches remains functionally intact and viable. It applies only to man-made ditches and is not intended to address alteration of habitat along naturally-occurring streams and watercourses.

"The Service is committed to Preble’s recovery that achieves long-term conservation as well as solutions for development and agricultural needs," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s regional director for the Mountain-Prairie Region. "Making allowances for specific activities to occur while still providing recovery provisions for the mouse and its habitat will be the cornerstone to successful conservation planning." 

The final special 4(d) rule issued in May 2001 will be in effect for 36 months. During that period, the Service will continue to work with state and local governments, landowners and others to foster conservation of the Preble’s, a species found only in Colorado and Wyoming.

The final special 4(d) rule exempts the following activities from the general take provisions provided they are conducted in accordance with the requirements specified in the special rule:

The amendment proposed today will add exemptions for noxious weed control and ditch maintenance activities.

Currently the State of Colorado, the Service, and various local governmental entities in Colorado and Wyoming are working together to develop plans to conserve the Preble’s and its habitat. This collaborative approach is expected to result in the development of habitat conservation plans which will provide an important component to the effective and long-term conservation and recovery program for the Preble’s.

The Service published the proposed special rule amendment in today’s Federal Register. Comments on the proposed special rule amendment should be mailed to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Leroy Carlson, Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, Ecological Services,755 Parfet Street, Room 361, Lakewood, Colorado 80215. Comments should be received by September 28.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is 8 to 9 inches in length with a tail that accounts for 60 percent of its measurement. It has coarse fur with a dark back, paler sides tending toward yellowish brown and a white belly. Its hind feet are long and adapted for jumping small distances. The range of the species corresponds largely to the rapidly developing Front Range Urban Corridor running from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The decline of the species is indicative of the decline of riparian habitat throughout the Front Range.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

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FAQs about the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse and the special 4(d) rule and proposed amendment are available on the Mountain-Prairie Region  web site at

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