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Jumping Meadow Mouse Draws Rebuke of Congressional Panel

Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave's hearing in Greeley focused on impacts Preble's mouse has in Colorado

 PRESS RELEASE Sept 18, 2006

Washington, DC:  Today, Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04) held an official congressional hearing in Colorado to investigate problems with the Endangered Species Act and how the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse is negatively impacting agriculture and local economic development.  At the request of Musgrave, Chairman Richard Pombo (CA-11) of the U.S. House Committee on Resources attended in order to hear from Colorado residents and other experts.

"Private property owners who encounter endangered species like the Preble's mouse on their land have to endure the enormous burden the federal government imposes in protecting them," said Musgrave.  "The current law has forced many people to ignore the existence of endangered species, opting instead to shoot, shovel, and shut up.  Its disappointing this is becoming a popular creed throughout the West, but given the current climate its understandable.  Today's hearing will help other lawmakers and me pass federal legislation that is more integrated and places a stronger emphasis on involving the participation of land owners in species recovery."

During the hearing, Chairman Pombo stated, "While scientists may disagree over the status of the species, the fact is that as long as it remains listed as a threatened species there are regulatory consequences felt by those who fall within this mouse's range."

The Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse was listed under the Endangered Species Act as a subspecies in 1998.  Since, farmers, ranchers and other land managers throughout Colorado and other Great Plains states have challenged the validity of the listing, arguing the mouse did not merit being described as a distinct subspecies but rather part of a larger group of jumping mice that would not merit a threatened status.

As a result, over 31,000 acres of critical habitat was designated for the mouse and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the economic impact will cost $79 - $183 million over ten years. 

Alan Foutz of Colorado Farm Bureau testified today, stating, "The Endangered Species Act is broken and it needs fixed.  The scientific standard needs to be improved.  One should not be able to simply pick a theory or perceived problem and have nearly automatic standing or 'credit' when filing a listing request, or as in most of the cases, filing a lawsuit demanding listing.  A perfect example of the necessity to improve the scientific standard is the Preble's meadow jumping mouse." 

Witnesses at Musgrave's hearing included Dr. Alan Foutz, President, Colorado Farm Bureau; Greg W. Hertzke, Water Acquisitions Manager, Central Colorado Water Conservancy District; Jerry Sonnenberg, Sonnenberg Farms; David Tschetter, Colorado Custom Homes; Kent Holsinger, Holsinger Law, LLC; Erik Molvar, Wildlife Biologist, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance; Matt Cronin, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, University of Alaska.

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