For Immediate Release, August 4, 2011
||Duane Short, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, (307) 74-7978
Josh Pollock, Rocky Mountain Wild, (303) 454-3382
Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681
Jason Rylander, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 682-9400 x145
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council, (312) 651-7909
Federal Protections Reinstated for Wyoming Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse
WASHINGTON— Effective Aug. 6, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will reinstate protections for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act throughout its range. Protections had been removed for the mouse in 2007 in the Wyoming portions of its range, while it remained protected in Colorado.
“This is a great day for wildlife,” said Duane Short, Wild Species program director with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance of Laramie, Wyo. “Wyoming streamside habitats offer the best chance for survival of the jumping mouse, and especially with Colorado jumping mouse populations decimated by development, it is critical to protect this rare animal where it has the best chance to survive.”
The decision comes at the end of a long and controversial battle during which opponents of protection brought forward a genetic study by Rob Roy Ramey that questioned the legitimacy of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a valid subspecies. The Ramey study was later discredited during an investigation by an independent panel of genetics experts, who found that the Ramey samples had been “contaminated,” and who confirmed the results of a federal study that concluded that the Preble’s was genetically distinct.
"It has taken years to restore the fundamental Endangered Species Act protections originally intended for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, but now that science and common sense have prevailed, the mouse and all of us who rely on clean and healthy streams in the Front Range of Colorado and Wyoming can breathe a sigh of relief," said Josh Pollock, conservation director at Rocky Mountain Wild.
Conservation groups, including Rocky Mountain Wild (formerly Center for Native Ecosystems), Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Defenders of Wildlife, filed suit against the removal of Endangered Species protections in Wyoming. They argued that the government’s interpretation of the “Significant Portion of Range” policy under the Endangered Species Act violated the requirements of the law. Faced with mounting losses on this issue in other cases, the federal government capitulated in July of 2011 and sought dismissal of its finding. The groups were represented by Eric Glitzenstein of Meyer, Glitzenstein, & Crystal, a Washington, D.C., law firm.
“This is good news and will allow us to engage with others in the community once again to figure out how to best conserve the species,” said Jason Rylander, senior staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “A piecemeal approach to wildlife protection simply doesn’t work and undermines the ability of the Endangered Species Act to recover America’s imperiled plants and animals.”
The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is a small rodent that stands on its hind legs, balanced by a long tail, and hops like a kangaroo. It is found exclusively in the lush streamside vegetation, known as “riparian habitat,” along waterways on the Great Plains and foothills between Casper, Wyo., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is a special part of Wyoming’s natural heritage, and we are pleased that this species, which can jump four feet and communicate by drumming its tail, will once again have the Endangered Species Act protection it needs to survive,” said Tierra Curry, biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Protecting the jumping mouse will have conservation benefits for many other types of wildlife that depend on rich streamside habitats on the High Plains."
“This isn’t just great for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, it is also an important conservation victory,” said Sylvia Fallon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Political borders only separate people. They shouldn’t be used to fracture wildlife protections for this species or any other. The previous ruling simply never made sense.”
The federal government’s notice of the reinstatement is available online at http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-19895_PI.pdf.