For Immediate Release, March 15, 2016
Contact: Jay Lininger, (928) 853-9929, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Jumping Mouse Gains 14,000 Acres of Critical Habitat
Protecting Streamside Habitat Will Also Benefit Other Species, Water Quality
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— As part of an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected 13,973 acres of critical habitat for the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The mouse only lives along streams. It was once found from southern Colorado to central New Mexico and eastern Arizona, but has been lost from the vast majority of its range due to loss and degradation of streamside habitat.
“Protection of the streamside habitat that the mouse needs to survive is long overdue,” said Jay Lininger, a senior scientist at the Center. “This is one of the most precariously endangered mammals in the country, and protecting its habitat will benefit a host of other species, too, and improve water quality.”
In 2014 the Service listed the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as endangered following an agreement with the Center and other conservation groups under which more than 100 other species have also gained protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The mouse, which is threatened primarily by livestock grazing in its riparian habitat, is unique in that it hibernates up to nine months. Each summer it must reproduce and gain enough weight to survive that long hibernation. It can only survive in areas with tall, dense growth of streamside grasses and sedges.
The jumping mouse is known to exist at only a few sites, none of which offer enough habitat to ensure the animal’s long-term survival. Mice at 11 of the 29 sites may already have been extirpated due to drought, excessive grazing and post-fire flooding. The mouse is also threatened by the disappearance of beaver, residential and commercial development, coalbed methane extraction and unregulated recreation.
The U.S. Forest Service has sought to forestall extinction of the jumping mouse by installing fences at certain sensitive sites in the Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests. Ranchers holding permits to graze on national forest land have sued the Forest Service in an effort to remove the fences that protect the jumping mouse, alleging violations of their property and water rights. However, a federal court denied their motion for a restraining order and allowed the fences to remain in place, finding that the ranchers’ allegations of harm to their business were grossly exaggerated.
The jumping mouse was first recognized as being in need of federal protection in 1985. It was placed on the candidate waiting list for protection in 1991 and again in 2007.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.