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Primary Threat is Over Grazing on Public Lands
SANTA FE - As a result of a historic settlement with WildEarth Guardians and in response to a scientific petition filed by the group in 2008, today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed listing the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also proposed designating 191.3 miles of critical habitat in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona for the imperiled animal.
“The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is uniquely adapted to streams and wetlands that are seriously threatened by overgrazing, stream de-watering, wildfire and climate change,” said Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “This amazing animal is a bell-weather for the health of southwestern streamside habitats. The most important thing we can do to protect the jumping mouse and the ecosystem they call home is to reign in grazing on public lands.”
The meadow jumping mouse lives only within feet of perennial streams with enough lush, dense streamside vegetation to provide them with food and shelter. The mouse hibernates longer than almost any other animal – for 8-9 months a year. This long hibernation period makes suitable habitat even more critical for the mouse because they must eat enough food in the 3-4 months they are not hibernating to last the year.
Over-grazing destroys the streamside riparian and wet meadow habitat on which the meadow jumping mice depend. Meadow jumping mice populations have shrunk by at least 76% on the last 15 years and mice are often found only in areas actively protected from grazing.
“To ensure the imperiled meadow jumping mouse is spared from extinction, it needs the full protections of the Endangered Species Act including designated critical habitat. This species has waited for federal protection for far too long already and deserves immediate emergency listing.” added Ms. Cotton.