A recent decision by a federal judge in Denver to restore Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse in Wyoming is disappointing and points to the need to amend the ESA, according to the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.  “We are disappointed in the ruling,” Ken Hamilton, WyFB executive vice president, said.  “I don’t think we were in danger of having the mouse go extinct here in Wyoming.”

“Surveys of the Wyoming mouse population disclosed more numbers than expected,” He continued.

“The Preble’s has existed with agriculture for over 150 years because we have management practices that are compatible with the Preble’s lifestyle,” Hamilton noted.  “Now we are forced into a situation in which agriculture producers are going to have to get approval from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to do what they have done for 60-70 years.”

“That is the problem with the ESA; you punish people that have the species on their land,” Hamilton stated.

In 2008, the USFWS determined the Preble’s did not need threatened species protection in Wyoming, but protections would continue in Colorado.  This decision took ten years from when the Preble’s was first listed as a threatened species in both Wyoming and Colorado in 1998.  The Preble’s returns to the 1998 status with the July 7, 2011 ruling

In 2008, environmental organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the USFWS use of a “Significant Portion of the Range” policy to delist the mouse in Wyoming, but not in Colorado.

“We in Wyoming certainly run things different then Colorado,” Hamilton said.  “It is reasonable to expect that the impact on a species would be different.”

According to the Wyoming Farm Bureau, there is an inherent unfairness about the process where you can’t delist on a political boundary, but you have to have political protections in place.

“They argue you can’t use political boundaries for species protection, but yet they will turn around and say we can’t delist because there are inadequate regulatory protections,” Hamilton stated.

“With this Preble’s ruling, that process is jeopardized because on one hand they say you can’t use political boundaries and on the other hand you must have protections within your political boundaries.”

“This is yet another example of the flaws of the ESA,” Hamilton concluded.  “If it were truly about protecting species, then the very landowners who provide habitat for many different wildlife would not be penalized.”