For Immediate Release
December 18, 1998

Contact: Tom MacKenzie


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today listed the St. Andrew beach mouse, a species found in coastal areas on the Florida panhandle, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Endangered status describes a species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The St. Andrew beach mouse once lived along nearly 54 miles of Florida's beaches from Gulf County to Crooked Island in Bay County. Over time, however, two thirds of the sand dune habitat on the St. Joseph Penisnulsa and all mainland areas within the species historic range have been impacted or threatened. An estimated 500 remaining individuals live on St. Joseph Peninsula in Gulf County.

The 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.

"Major threats to the survival of the St. Andrew beach mouse are habitat loss and modification from a combination of hurricanes, tropical storms, non-storm related shoreline erosion, and land development and related activities," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeastern Regional Director. " Other threats include predation by free-ranging, domestic cats and competition from house mice."

The St. Andrew beach mouse joins five other beach mice subspecies currently listed under the Endangered Species Act. The listing makes it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, or collect the species or to destroy or harm its habitat. In addition, federal agencies are required to consult with the Service on the impacts of their projects on the species and incorporate conservation measures into their project plans.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Gulf County, and Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases control habitat within the historic range of the St. Andrew beach mouse and have already begun habitat protection and restoration initiatives.

The Service initiated a project earlier this year in which some mice from T.H. Stone Memorial State Park on the St. Joseph Peninsula were moved to the eastern segment of Crooked Island on Tyndall Air Force Base.

"This effort among state and federal stakeholders is an example of the kinds of cooperation needed to recover the St. Andrew beach mouse to a healthy population," Hamilton said.

The listing decision was published in the December 18, 1998, Federal Register. Individuals with questions about the listing of the beach mouse should contact the Service for information and technical assistance. The address is: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City Field Office, 1612 June Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405-3721 (telephone 850/769-0552).

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


Release #: R98-119

1998 News Releases

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