The Long, Sad Saga of a Tiny, Tiny Mouse

Ten years. That's how long people have been fighting over the tiny, rare Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse. The debate isn't just about preserving an endangered species. It's also about commercialization of the land, water usage, science, and more.

But then, isn't it always?

This article from the Northern Colorado Tribune does the best job I've seen of summing up the history of the fight. The saga involves lawsuits, fights, screaming, scheming, genetics, bizarre rulings, and, most recently, a proposal for patchwork protection that symbolizes the Bush Administration's harmful policies toward endangered species.

You see, earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed (PDF) continuing to list the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act -- but only in Colorado. The population in Wyoming would lose its ESA protective status. Never mind the fact that the population of the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse happens to hop back and forth across state lines all the time.

This is typical of the Bush Administration's policies. If a species is relatively abundant in one U.S. state, it can lose its protective status in all other states. So species' protected habitats grow smaller, their genetic diversity continues to shrink, and developers get more opportunities to bulldoze and build.

(And oddly enough, this particular move makes has developers in Colorado hopping mad. They want the land that the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse sits upon, and they must wonder why Wyoming developers got it so good.)

The Fish and Wildlife Service's final decision isn't due until June 2008. But you can bet the fighting will continue through that date -- and long beyond.