Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse | Endangered or Not?

There’s a giant debate over a tiny creature in Colorado after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to keep the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse on the endangered species list. The tiny animal is the subject of much debate in the West over water usage, land development and rights.

On November 1st, the Wildlife service removed the mouse from the endangered species list in the state of Wyoming, but kept it on the list in Colorado. The land in Wyoming on which the mouse lives mainly consists of agriculture, and the Wildlife service does not see where this would be cause for concern over the extinction of the mouse. However, in Colorado — according to a report from the Wildlife service — land development activities have really altered the habitat. The development continues, thus creating a major concern to the Wildlife service in regards to the Jumping Mouse’s future.

The timid, nocturnal mouse was discovered in 1899 by Edward A. Preble and was added to the list of endangered species in 1998.

Lawmakers in Colorado are confused and concerned by the Wildlife service’s continuation to include the mouse on the endangered list. U.S. Senator Wayne Allard has worked on the issue during his tenure in Congress, and feels that the decision by the Wildlife service goes against the service’s own science. Allard is confused by seeing a tiny mouse, which can travel several times a day between the state borders of Wyoming and Colorado, be on the endangered species list in what state, yet not on the list in another that is just several miles away.

Coloradans for Water Conservation and Development, an issue group representing the Colorado Association of Homebuilders, filed a petition to remove the mouse from the list several years ago. On the group’s website, a lawyer sited a report made by the Wildlife Service that protecting the mouse could cost the government and landowners around $183 million per decade.

Regardless, the Wildlife service and other environmental groups feel the mouse is worth protecting; not only for the sake of the mouse, but also for the protection of land in the surrounding areas.

The Wildlife service plans to have a final decision in regards to the mouse by June of 2008. Whatever decision is made, hopefully it will be in the best interest of both the mouse and the West.

Read more about the Preble Mouse’s status here.

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