The meadow jumping mouse is New Mexico’s latest federally listed endangered species.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service named the tiny creature to the list of protected wildlife June 10 and will next determine ways to reduce threats to its recovery.
The mouse Zapus hudsonius luteus joins the silvery minnow, Mexican spotted owl, gray wolf, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, five kinds of springsnails and others to become the 33rd species in the state to make the list.
“The jumping mouse is the canary so to speak for stream health in New Mexico’s watersheds,” says Bryan Bird, wild places program director for WildEarth Guardians, a group that recently reached a settlement with the federal government after it filed a federal court lawsuit seeking determinations for the mouse and 250 other species that were stuck in an agency backlog. “The listing is an alarm call that we need to treat our streams and rivers with more care in a time of climate volatility.”
Jumping mice live in riparian and wet meadow habitat that is threatened by overgrazing. WildEarth Guardians says the animal’s population in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona has shrunk by at least 76 percent in the last 15 years, and mice are often found only in areas actively protected from grazing.