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Forest Service Failing to Adequately Curtail Livestock Grazing
Additional WildEarth Guardian Contacts:
John Horning 505-795-5083
Albuquerque, NM –WildEarth Guardians today warned the U.S. Forest Service that it will sue the federal agency to require greater protection of the streamside habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. Guardians claims that ongoing livestock grazing authorized by the agency is pushing the endangered animal to the brink of extinction.
“The questions raised by our legal efforts to protect this mouse are quite simple,” said Bryan Bird, WildEarth Guardians Biologist. “Are we going to protect the 1% of our public lands that have water for all Americans and, therefore protect recreational values and diverse wildlife habitat? Or are we going to allow the livestock industry to continue to wreck them?”
Cattle’s grazing destroys the streamside and wet meadow habitat on which the meadow jumping mice depend. Native to parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, meadow jumping mouse populations shrunk by at least 76% in the last 15 years and mice are often found only in areas actively protected from livestock grazing.
“The Forest Service has been building special habitat enclosures that allow access for small wildlife and recreationists for many years, but not enough,” said Bird. “They will likely have to fence out cattle from many more miles of streams to end the trampling of vegetation and stream banks.”
Because of the significant risk that grazing poses to the continued existence of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, WildEarth Guardians says the Forest Service must initiate formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act addressing grazing impacts on the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse in the Santa Fe, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Lincoln national forests. This would include consultation on:
The jumping mouse has the longest known hibernation period of any animal: eight to nine months per year. This long hibernation period makes suitable habitat even more critical for the jumping mouse because they must eat enough food in the three to four months they are active to last the full year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized protections for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse on June 10, 2014 as a result of a historic multi-species settlement agreement with Guardians reached in May 2011, which requires the Service to make listing and critical habitat determinations for 251 candidate species by the end of 2016. Listing species under the Endangered Species Act is a proven effective safety net: more than 99 percent of plants and animals listed persist today. The law is especially important as a bulwark against the current extinction crisis: plants and animals are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities.