The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday announced an endangered status review of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a mammal which has for years been the center of debate in Wyoming and Colorado.
The service will review the mouse’s status and present a report by June about whether the animal should be protected under federal law. The report will serve as an answer to two petitions filed in 2003 — one by the Wyoming governor’s office, the other by Coloradans for Water Conservation and Development. Each petition seeks to remove the tiny mouse from federal protection lists.
The mouse mainly inhabits a stretch from Colorado Springs to Cheyenne and often weighs less than an ounce. It was protected in both states for years. The service in 2008 narrowed Preble’s habitat areas covered by the Endangered Species Act, protecting the mouse in Colorado but not Wyoming. The agency justified its action using an interpretation of the act allowing for protections only where the animal is most threatened.
Conservation groups filed suit and a judge overturned the interpretation. The agency relisted the Preble’s mouse in 2011, vowing to reconsider the animal’s status.
Preble’s was first added to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1998 as a threatened species. The species is threatened by habitat alteration, degradation, loss and fragmentation resulting from urban development, flood control, water development, agriculture, and other human land uses.