WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a status review of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse due to two petitions requesting the mouse be delisted from Endangered Species Act protection as a result of taxonomic changes and new information on abundance and distribution, according to a USFWS proposal.
The status review, initiated in response to two "nearly identical" 2003 petitions by Wyoming's Governor's Office and Coloradans for Water Conservation and Development, coincides with the agency's 5-year review of the species, the action stated.
In 2010, the USFWS removed protections for the mouse in Wyoming, but kept its "threatened" status listing in Colorado, considered to be a significant portion of its range. "That decision was based on the Significant Portion of the Range (SPR) policy at that time that allowed [the USFWS] to apply ESA protections to those portions of a species' range where [it] believed it was most threatened instead of all the places where it is found," the agency said. When the SPR policy was challenged in the U.S. District Court in Colorado and found to be invalid, the agency amended the listing to once again include Wyoming, according to the recent action.
The agency's draft SPR policy has not yet been finalized, but the final status review findings will reflect the revised policy on the SPR language, the agency noted in a statement.
The mouse was first listed as threatened in 1998 due to habitat loss and degradation from urban development, flood control, agriculture and other human land uses, the agency said. The mouse is about nine inches long (including the five inch long tail), and has large hind feet for jumping, the agency said.
The Preble's mouse is named for Edward A. Preble, who first identified the mouse in Colorado in 1899. It is recognized as one of 12 subspecies of meadow jumping mouse, according to the proposal, and it has survived a previous effort to delist it as a threatened species on the basis of taxonomic revision, according to the agency's statement.
The USFWS requests information on abundance, distribution, population trends, taxonomic status and life history, and new information on threats from natural or human-caused factors and climate change, to be submitted by Dec. 26. The final determinations for the 12-month petition finding and the 5-year status review are expected in June 2013, the agency said.
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