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Group reels from effort to pull Preble's mouse protection

By Douglas Crowl
The Daily Times-Call

Data that shows the Preble's meadow jumping mouse never existed still
needs proper review before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pulls the
animal off the federal endangered list, a local environmental group

Erin Robertson, staff biologist for the Center for Native Ecosystems in
Boulder, said the genetic study showing that the Preble's mouse is
actually the more common Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse is not
published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"The standard for publication in a journal is higher," she said.

The unpublished study, however, has been peer-reviewed but doesn't
respond to questions from the review, Robertson added, which is unusual
for data being taken so seriously.

Fourteen peer reviewers voted 8-6 to support the study's conclusions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently began the process to remove
the Preble's mouse from the federal endangered species list, citing the
study, which was conducted by Denver Museum of Nature and Science
scientist Rob Roy Ramey.

The process is expected to take one year, and wildlife officials say
more scientific proof will come that proves that Preble's is the Bear
Lodge mouse, which was thought to exist only in the Black Hills area,
mostly in South Dakota.

Delisting the Preble's mouse jeopardizes the efforts of environmental
groups to develop broad protections of the stream corridors in Colorado
and Wyoming where the animal lives.

Robertson said the Center for Native Ecosystems' main interest is
avoiding the extinction of animals, but she acknowledged the importance
of protecting the stream corridors for wildlife and human drinking

"This was an opportunity for counties across the country to think about
how they are growing and how are they going to protect streamsides," she

Robertson emphasized that even if Ramey's study holds water, streamside
protection could stay in place.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must consider if the Bear Lodge mouse
needs to be put on the endangered species list. Environmental groups in
the Black Hills area have already identified the mouse as needing
protection, Robertson said.

The agency also must consider if Colorado and Wyoming's mouse is a
"distinct population segment" that also could warrant protection.

For developers, no protection for Preble's means avoiding
habitat-conservation plans to protect the animal, work that can be
costly and time consuming.

Jon Lee of Community Development Group went through the process four
years ago in Douglas County. He said it took 15 months to work with the
Fish and Wildlife Service to lessen the impact on the mouse's habitat,
which put the development on hold.

Hundreds of habitat-conservation plans have been written since the
Preble's mouse was listed in 1998, said Pete Plage, a biologist in the
Colorado field office for U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Plage said the mouse is the only species on the Front Range that forces
such plans in the stream corridors where it lives.

That's unlike in other states, such as California, where developers are
used to planning around sensitive habitat, he said.

Boulder County and the city of Boulder were writing a
habitat-conservation plan to protect streamsides for the Preble's mouse.
That process is now on hold.

"We don't want to finish that plan if the species is going to go away,"
said Bob Crifasi, water resource specialist for the city of Boulder Open
Space and Mountain Parks.

The mouse lives along South Boulder Creek, Mountain Park areas and Coal

Even if the protections end, Crifasi said, the city and the county of
Boulder have identified stream corridors as important places to protect.
He believes environmental groups were more focused on surrounding
counties to enforce protections for the mouse and stream corridors.

"Perhaps if (the Preble's mouse) gets delisted, they should have looked
at other ways of protecting these areas," Crifasi said.

Douglas Crowl can be reached at 303-684-5253, or by e-mail at
[email protected].

Random Dude
1,043 Posts
I love this stuff. I wonder how easy it is to mark a species as endangered. Do you think we could make the red-headed Bob an endangered species. I wonder if that would get me a larger tax break?

Can you imagine if that went through? It would make the enviro groups look like idiots.
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