Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Feds to set aside land in Western states for rare mouse

The federal government is setting aside nearly 22 square miles across three western states as critical habitat for a rare mouse that has already pitted ranchers against the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that areas in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona will be covered by the designation for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The management of vegetation along 170 miles of streams throughout the region will be affected. The designation stems from an agreement with environmental groups that had pushed for the federal government to do more to protect the mouse and dozens of other species. Federal biologists say 29 populations of the mouse have been documented in the three states since 2005, and all are small and isolated. Nearly a dozen of the populations have been affected by drought, wildfire, flooding and grazing. The meadow jumping mouse — which depends on tall grass along streams and in other riparian areas — was first recognized as being in need of federal protection in 1985. It was placed on the waiting list in 1991 and again in 2007 and then listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2014...more

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