- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Preble's meadow jumping mouse could halt plans to develop sections of Colorado and Wyoming. The mouse has been subject to political and scientific controversy, with some claiming the species shouldn't be considered endangered, and others just the opposite.
A study commissioned by Interior Secretary Gale Norton and conducted by biologist Rob Ramey found that the jumping mouse's genetic makeup was the same as the common Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse. Last year, Norton touted Ramey's findings that the mouse no longer warranted federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, and called for the animal to be de-listed. Ramey has since been contracted by the Interior Department to research other species on the endangered list that are blocking developers.
However, Ramey's findings have been called into question. In a recent study, Tim King, a USGS conservation geneticist from West Virginia, concluded that the mouse was a unique creature with a distinct evolutionary lineage. King's findings have delayed until this summer what would have been the mouse's final hearing last month before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Both researchers did genetic studies and published peer-reviewed reports. Ramey studied genetic code from tissue samples and museum specimens of many of the 12 subspecies of meadow jumping mice. He also repeated some the original 1954 research that had helped to establish Preble's as a subspecies of it own. King's study was a conclusion of genetic samples collected from over 140 meadow jumping mice across the Northern Great Plains, and included mice in the Bear Lode Mountains and the Black Hills.
The mouse has been listed on the federal endangered species list since 1998 and its protected habitat covers nearly 31,000 acres from Colorado Springs, Colo. to Laramie, Wyo.