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Thu March 25, 2004
Feds Take Another Look at Preble's Mouse
Laramie, Wy – The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service will reassess whether the Preble's meadow jumping mouse should continue to receive federal protection.
Agency and state officials made the announcement Wednesday.
The mouse, found only in Colorado and Wyoming, was listed as threatened in 1998.
Designation of critical habitat for the rodent has delayed construction of housing projects and restricted farm-and-ranch operations such as haying and weed control.
The state of Wyoming filed a petition in December after scientists at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science determined that the jumping mouse is genetically indistinguishable from a common type of mouse found extensively in the western United States.
Governor Freudenthal says the fact that the mouse was listed at all calls for revised federal policy to ensure that endangered species actions are more science-based.
Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Sharon Rose says the agency will examine new information and decide within a year whether to remove protection for the mouse.
Erin Robertson is a staff biologist for the Denver-based Center for Native Ecosystems.
She says the ruling is frustrating because when citizens' groups seek to have new species listed as endangered, it usually takes a court fight to compel the Fish and Wildlife Service to act.
Robertson says it seems like the feds are prioritizing removing protections from species rather than trying to prevent extinction.