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Court: WYO Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse Protection? Hop to It

July 11, 2011

LARAMIE, Wyo. - It looks like a tiny kangaroo, but it's a mouse - and it will soon hop back on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list in Wyoming. A U.S. District Court judge made that call for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, after looking at a 2008 Bush administration decision to split protection for the species along the state line between Wyoming and Colorado.

Wildlife biologist Erik Molvar at the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says the Wyoming population is the critter's best chance for survival.

"The Colorado populations are very likely to wink out, given their small size, their fragmented nature and the population growth and suburban sprawl pressures that are being placed on them along the Front Range of Colorado."

That kind of split policy was applied in several ESA cases, although all have since been dropped. Molvar notes that the mouse had been protected for almost 10 years in Wyoming before the 2008 decision, and there were not any major conflicts with state or private development. He says the mouse's habitat is also recognized as beneficial for other Wyoming wildlife.

"It's found uniquely along stream courses. That kind of riparian habitat is very lush and rich, with lots of vegetation, and typically is a very good indicator of wildlife habitat for many different kinds of animals."

The Preble's meadow jumping mouse will be back under ESA protection on Aug. 6. The ruling came from U.S. District Court Judge John Kane.

The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Native Ecosystems, Centers for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council brought the case challenging the split-policy ESA decision.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY