Saturday, November 10, 2007

Feds Say Mouse Still Threatened in Colorado

After months of silence, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced Nov. 1 that it intends to remove the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) from the threatened species list in the Wyoming part of its range but maintain it on the threatened species list in the Colorado portion of its range.

The jumping mouse, which is found in the foothills of Wyoming and south along the Front Range to El Paso county, Colorado, inhabits mature plains riparian-area vegetation in relatively undisturbed grassland areas near a water source. Human presence in the riparian areas of Colorado's sprawling Front Range has severely curtailed the mouse's habitat.

The mouse, which reaches a maximum length of about 7 to 10 inches and is nocturnal, can jump about three feet in order to evade predators.

The mouse was first listed by FWS as threatened throughout its entire range on May 13, 1998. Critical habitat was designated on June 23, 2003.

In December 2003 a Colorado group of development advocates and the Governor of Wyoming petitioned FWS to de-list the Preble's meadow jumping mouse. They argued that the mouse did not constitute a subspecies eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

FWS found that the petitions presented information substantial enough to indicate that de-listing might be warranted on Mar. 31, 2004. Nearly one year later, the agency proposed to de-list the mouse.

In reaching that preliminary conclusion, FWS relied heavily on research conducted by Dr. Rob Roy Ramey, formerly of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and colleagues, which suggested that the Preble’s mouse should be considered the same subspecies as the Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius campestris).

Later research, especially a report commissioned by FWS from the U.S. Geological Survey in 2006, concluded that the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is, in fact, a distinct subspecies.

FWS published its proposed revision of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse listing on Nov. 7, 2007.

Hearings on the Fish & Wildlife Service's proposal will be conducted Dec. 10 at the agency's Rocky Mountain Region office, 134 Union Blvd., Lakewood, CO, and Dec. 12 at the First State Bank conference center, 1405 16th St., Wheatland, WY.

In addition, FWS is accepting written comments on its proposal to revise the listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse until Jan. 14, 2008. Comments may be mailed to Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 or e-mailed to