Local species listed as endangered


Staff Writer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially determined Monday that the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is in danger of going extinct, granting it protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Though named after Colorado’s southern neighbor, the jumping mouse is also found in the San Juan Mountains and has habitats in both Archuleta and La Plata counties, among others. The critical habitat designations for the small mammal, a mouse that is grayish-brown on top, yellowish-brown on the sides and white underneath, have yet to be announced, but could affect an area of Archuleta County.

In a federal register from June 2013, an area located off of County Road 977 along an unnamed drainage through the Sambrito Wetlands Areas, about 1.1 miles west of Sambrito Creek and near the headwaters of Navajo Reservoir, was identified as a potential critical habitat designation area. Official designation will be announced later this year.

The jumping mouse is always found within a short distance of a permanent water source. It prefers to live alongside streams and wetland vegetation, especially composed of willows and alders, or reed canarygrass and beaked sedge, up to an elevation of 8,000 feet.

Fish and wildlife has determined that home ranges for the mouse can vary from 0.37 to 2.7 acres and may overlap. The jumping mouse is mostly nocturnal and hibernates about nine months out of the year.

The jumping mouse has an extremely long, bi-colored tail usually 5.1 inches long, elongated feet 1.2 inches long and is about 7.4 inches in total length, according to the wildlife service’s website.

The endangered listing comes as a result of “cumulative habitat loss and fragmentation across its range, of which 95 percent is on federal and state lands … The primary sources of habitat loss include impacts from grazing, water management and use, drought (exacerbated by climate change) and wildfires (also exacerbated by climate change),” the agency states.

Another stress on the mammal is the fact that the mouse is only active about three months of the year. Within those three months it must breed, birth and raise its young, in addition to storing up sufficient fat for hibernation. Having to do so much in such a small amount of time amplifies any negative effects  on the creatures brought on by drought or other outside sources.

The species’ listing as endangered will become official on July 10. The jumping mouse was first listed as a candidate for protection in 2007.