Groups Battle Over Threatened Jumping Mouse Status

Nov 13, 2017

This largely nocturnal mouse lives primarily in heavily vegetated, shrub dominated riparian (streamside) habitats and immediately adjacent upland habitats along the foothills of southeastern Wyoming south to Colorado Springs along the eastern edge of the Front Range of Colorado. The Preble's mouse enters hibernation in September or October and doesn't emerge until May. Its diet changes seasonally and consists of insects, seeds, fungus, fruit and more.
Credit USFWS

The Center for Biological Diversity and Rocky Mountain Wild, both conservation groups, filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue protections of the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act. 

The small mouse is considered threatened and occupies stream-side habitat in the front range of Wyoming and Colorado. 

This comes in response to another petition from a property rights group called the Pacific Legal Foundation, or PLF. It sought to delist the species in March, arguing the mouse isn’t not truly threatened and that the critter's protections have had significant negative economic impacts on property owners.

In a letter earlier this year, PLF senior attorney Damien Schiff cited a 2013 study arguing the Preble’s Mouse is part of a larger northern population and shouldn’t qualify for a sub-species designation.  

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the petition’s science is faulty and that the species protections are needed for its survival.

“Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly concluded that it's at risk of extinction and that we’re at risk of losing it,” he said. "There's a bona fide concern for a part of our natural heritage."

Schiff responded that the environmental groups' petitions are premature because the Fish and Wildlife Service hasn't even responded to PLF's petition yet. 

Greenwald said he would be happy if both the petitions were denied. He expects the Fish and Wildlife Service to respond, at latest, by March 2018.