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NM Meadow Jumping Mouse Officially an Endangered Species

PHOTO: Conservation groups are urging government agencies to work quickly to protect the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, which is now officially an endangered species. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
PHOTO: Conservation groups are urging government agencies to work quickly to protect the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, which is now officially an endangered species. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
June 10, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is now officially an endangered species, and conservation groups are urging government agencies to do as much as possible to protect the nearly extinct animal.

The mouse's primary habitat is along streams in central New Mexico, eastern Arizona, and southern Colorado, all areas which are also used for cattle grazing. According to Jay Lininger, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, the greatest threat to the mouse's habitat is from cattle grazing, though he adds the two species can co-exist on the public lands where the mouse lives and the cattle water.

"There's absolutely no reason why livestock have to water inside riparian areas occupied by the jumping mouse, where cows can literally drive the mice extinct," says Lininger. "Water can be piped to drinkers outside of the riparian habitat, and it could be a win-win for both the mice and the ranchers."

Lininger says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now officially recognizes the mouse as an endangered species following a long process and settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups. He says allowing the mouse to go extinct would disrupt the overall food chain.

"Mice are part of the food chain across the entire ecosystem," says Lininger. "They're a highly sought-after food source for a variety of snakes, foxes, and birds like redtail hawks. The entire food chain suffers if the jumping mouse blinks out."

Lininger says fewer than 30 populations of the mouse are known to remain in the three-state region.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM