A rare mouse found in New Mexico and two other western states now has protection under the Endangered Species Act, and that’s expected to aggravate ongoing battles between the federal government and ranchers over water and property rights in drought-stricken areas.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an order Monday listing the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as endangered.
The tiny mouse lives along streams and in wet areas in parts of New Mexico, southern Colorado and eastern Arizona. Biologists say the biggest threats are grazing and water use and management.
Regional officials with the U.S. Forest Service have acknowledged they will have to put up fences or take other action to protect water sources for the mouse. Ranchers say that could force them to abandon their grazing allotments.
The state listed the species as threatened in 1983.