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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


March 17, 2004

Contacts: Mary Jennings (WY) 307-772-2374 x 32
Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-7917 x 408

Proposed Extension of Special Rule for
 Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct a public hearing on April 1, 2004, in Wheatland, Wyoming on a proposed permanent extension of an amended special rule for the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. The special rule defines the conditions under which take of this species may occur without violating the Endangered Species Act.

On February 24, 2004, the Service published a proposed action to make permanent an amended special rule that allows take to occur as the result of certain rodent control, agricultural operations, landscape maintenance, noxious weed control, ditch maintenance, and other specified activities.

The Endangered Species Act prohibits Atake@ defined as killing, harming, harassing, trapping, or wounding of a listed species or destruction of its habitat. However, section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act allows the Service to establish a special rule defining the conditions under which unintentional take of a threatened species is exempted.

The Service invited public comment on this proposal with the comment period to close on March 25, 2004. On March 9, the Service received a request to conduct public hearings on that proposal. In response to this request the Service will conduct a public hearing at the following time and location:

April 1, 2004 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Platte County Public Library, 904 9th Street, Wheatland, Wyoming.

In order to allow time for submittal of any public comments after the public hearing the Service is also extending the public comment period until April 12, 2004.

In accordance with the special rule, the following activities are exempted from general take provisions provided that they are conducted in accordance with the requirements specified in the special rule:

Rodent control within 10 feet of or inside any structure. Since the Preble's is not generally found in structures such as barns, houses, or other buildings, Preble's mortality associated with trapping or poisoning near these structures would be insignificant.

Ongoing agricultural activities, provided that impacts and encroachment upon Preble’s habitat do no increase. Situations where Preble's populations coexist with ongoing agriculture may provide valuable insight into habitat conditions and specific types of grazing and farming practices that are compatible with the species.

Maintenance, replacement and improvement of existing landscaping and related structures. Some landscaping activities, such as lawn mowing and gardening associated with residential or commercial development, golf courses, and parks may disrupt Preble's habitat in certain areas. However, because minimal take is associated with these activities, they are not expected to adversely affect Preble's conservation and recovery efforts.

Existing uses of water associated with the exercise of perfected water rights. Augmentation plans, replacement plans, and exchanges of water that have been recognized by decree or certificate of appropriation will be exempt from take prohibitions. Continued uses of water will generally maintain conditions under which the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse currently exists. Many existing water use activities appear to be compatible with maintenance of Preble's populations. In some locations, this species exists only because of human manipulation of water flows. However, take associated with new water development is not exempted.

Noxious weed control activities when conducted in accordance with State laws that govern noxious weed control and with Federal law governing pesticide labeling. This amendment will alleviate possible conflicts the Preble's listing may pose with respect to statutory requirements regarding noxious weed control in the States of Colorado and Wyoming. The Service believes this exemption will help conserve and recover Preble's because noxious weeds are displacing the desirable natural vegetation on which Preble's depends for survival.

Ongoing ditch maintenance activities that result in the annual loss of no more than one-quarter of a mile of riparian shrub habitat within any one linear mile of ditch, and that conform to certain Best Management Practices as defined in the amendments. The intent is to exempt normal and customary ditch maintenance activities that result in only temporary or limited disturbance of habitat and only minimal take of Preble's. This exemption is designed to provide relief to those who must maintain active ditches, and to ensure 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.


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