On April 17, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) reached a negative “90-day finding” on a petition to remove the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) from the List of Threatened and Endangered Species. The Service’s finding was in response to a petition to delist the mouse filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation in 2017. The Service concluded that the petition presented no new information indicating that delisting the mouse is warranted.
The Service rejected the petition’s taxonomic argument that the mouse is not a distinct subspecies that qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The petition was based upon a 2013 study concluding that genetic evidence shows the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is not a legitimate subspecies of one of the largest and most widespread genetic lineages of North American jumping mice and therefore asserted that the mouse is not a listable entity under the ESA. In rejecting the petition, the Service reasoned that it had already reviewed and incorporated the 2013 study into both the prior 5-year status review and the draft recovery plan for the species. The Service further concluded that the 2013 study did not present information indicating that delisting is warranted “due largely to its limited, historical biogeographical context based on genetics, prematurely applied conservation rankings, and stated admission that a taxonomic revision is beyond its scope.”
The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is found in Colorado and southern Wyoming and, since its listing as threatened in 1998, has been the subject of multiple delisting petitions brought by agricultural, business, and real estate development interests, as well as the State of Wyoming.