It’s been a long, strange trip for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse who first jumped into fame in 2005 as the US Fish and Widlife Service proposed removing it from the Endangered Species list based on a faulty genetics study. That was also the year that I happened to come on board at NRDC as a Conservation Genetics Fellow looking at the use of genetics in endangered species decisions and I jumped right in to help the mouse out.
When the genetics study failed to allow the Service to ‘delist’ the mouse, which is found along the Rocky Mountain’s Front Range, the Service relied on a Bush-Era solicitor’s memo to remove protections from the mouse in Wyoming while leaving protections in place in Colorado – an idea that has never made sense any way you look at it. Once again, NRDC and our partners jumped in to help the mouse out.
Yesterday a judge issued a ruling in the case that will restore protections to the mouse throughout its entire range beginning August 6th. This is certainly good news for the mouse. But for anyone who doesn’t see the value in protecting a mouse, yesterday’s decision is also good news for those who value clean water and beautiful landscapes. You see the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse makes its home along pristine streamside habitat which means by protecting the mouse, we protect the riparian habitat that residents in Colorado and Wyoming depend on for clean water and healthy open space areas.
As is human nature, there may be future attempts to undermine protections for this mouse and other species that keep our ecosystems functioning despite our shortsighted attempts to manage our wildlife and wildlands for our own immediate interests – afterall , the mouse has some of the best real estate in the west! I, for one, however, am grateful for the pristine streamside habitat and the clean water and beautiful landscapes which it provides. I enjoyed these areas as a child growing up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and my fondness for them is what has, in part, endeared me so much to the plight of the Preble’s mouse. Knowing that these mice and other people’s kids will be able to continue to enjoy these areas too makes my heart jump with joy.