FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GROUPS FILE SUIT TO PROTECT GULF COAST
MOBILE AL - The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today that would increase protection for the coastal habitat of the Alabama Beach Mouse, the Perdido Key Beach Mouse, and the Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse. The lawsuit would require the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the area that is designated as critical habitat for the beach mouse.
“The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged over two years ago that protecting more areas is necessary to the survival of the Beach Mouse,” said Robert Wiygul, an attorney representing the two groups. “Yet, they have done nothing to protect additional habitat. Meanwhile, development still threatens these vital areas. ”
Though the beach mouse was once thought to inhabit only the waterfront dunes of the Alabama/Florida coast, recent research has established the importance of secondary dunes and scrub habitats between the dunes as well. The beach mice use these habitats for water and as shelter during storms and hurricanes and other natural events.
"The endangered Alabama beach mouse sends us a clear warning about how inappropriate development has destroyed and degraded our coastal habitats," says Sidney Maddock, Environmental Analyst with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Critical habitat is an essential tool for achieving recovery of endangered and threatened species, and we will not stand by quietly and watch the Bush Administration make excuses about violating the Endangered Species Act after they created this situation by requesting woefully inadequate funding to designate or revise critical habitat."
Recently, Alabama beach mice have been trapped in secondary dunes and scrub habitats. The trapping effort was underwritten by a developer whose permits for two beach-front condominium developments are pending the outcome of an intense study of their environmental impacts. The trapper also found more beach mice than expected.
“This is good news if it’s true,” said Neil Milligan,
chair of the Sierra Club Alabama Chapter. “Our efforts to reduce
development pressure on the Fort Morgan coast are paying off. Now
that we know more about what areas the beach mice are inhabiting,
U. S. Fish and Wildlife needs to expand critical habitat so that
those areas will be protected. Protecting the beach mouse protects
the whole beach ecosystem, and that’s good for all of us.”