Why the Preble's Mouse Is in Court--Again

June 24 2009, 12:49 PM

mouseThe issue of whether the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is a unique and rare species deserving protection under the Endangered Species Act has spawned debate among scientists and environmentalists for years. Last year, however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tried to end the controversy by concluding that the mouse deserved protection in Colorado, where it is considered "threatened" because of rapid urban growth along the Front Range, while removing protection in Wyoming (via High Country News). But, as everyone knows, mice don't acknowledge state lines, and yesterday the feds' apparent double standard led five environmental groups to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver. The suit aims not only to prevent protections from being dropped in Wyoming, but also to raise the mouse's status to "endangered" in Colorado, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, which notes the ongoing conflict surrounding the mouse. Environmental groups claim Bush administration rules have also lowered protections for the gray wolf, Gunnison's prairie dog, and Queen Charlotte goshawk. Erin Robertson, senior staff biologist with the Center for Native Ecosystems, says in a statement printed by The Denver Post, "The fate of the mouse is important, but there is much more at stake."

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