FWS proposes delisting Preble’s Jumping Mouse
by Dawn Ballou
January 29, 2005
On January 28th, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) office in Lakewood, Colorado issued a news release saying the FWS is now proposing to remove the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse from the Endangered Species List. The mouse has been the center of a growing clash between environmentalists and developers in the rapidly growing areas of eastern Colorado and Wyoming over finding a balance in protecting mouse habitat and restrictions on development as human populations encroach into their range.
Genetic scientific evidence has now strongly suggested that the mouse once thought to be a rare unique species is in fact a subspecies of the Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse, which is abundant, thus leading to the new proposal to delist the mouse.
The FWS received two petitions to delist the mouse in December 2003, siting "data errors" and new information indicating a taxonomic revision was needed for the Preble’s mouse.
The new information "provided substantial biological information indicating that delisting may be warranted," As a result, the FWS initiated a status review. They received 14 peer reviews in 2004 which supported the science in the conclusion that the mouse was not a unique species requiring protection.
Until a final determination is made in 2006, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse will continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Environmentalist groups are denouncing the move as political with not enough studies to back the science.
According to a story in the Denver Post on January 29, 2005, "Almost 31,000 acres have been designated critical habitat for the mouse along streams in Colorado and Wyoming. Some critics estimate that builders, landowners and local governments have incurred $100 million in costs and lost revenue because of mouse protections."
Preble’s meadow jumping mouse are found in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Their habitat merges with the rapidly developing Front Range Urban Corridor which runs from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Bear Lodge Meadow Jumping Mouse is found in the Bear Lodge Mountains of northeastern Wyoming and the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, northeastern Wyoming, and southeastern Montana. This shy, largely nocturnal mouse lives primarily in heavily vegetated, shrub-dominated riparian (streamside) habitats and immediately adjacent upland habitats.
The mouse was listed as threatened in May, 1998, due to the rapid residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial development occurring in its habitat range along the foothills of southeastern Wyoming south to Colorado Springs along the eastern edge of the Front Range of Colorado. Mouse protections have resulted in delaying or stopping numerous development projects in those areas, which has caused builders and elected officials in northeastern Colorado and adjacent Wyoming to lodge numerous complaints on limits placed on development near the mouse’s streamside habitat.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) (Preble's or PMJM) is a small rodent approximately 9-inches in length with large hind feet adapted for jumping, a long bicolored tail (which accounts for 60% of its length), and a distinct dark stripe down the middle of its back and is bordered on either side by gray to orange-brown fur.