TRINIDAD – Biologists surveying the Fishers Peak property, which will become Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s next state park, have discovered the 19,200-acre former ranch is home to the federally endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse.
The mouse lives in riparian zones in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. It is rarely seen because it spends eight to nine months each year hibernating. During the summer, it can be found along streams and rivers in areas of wet soils and tall vegetation.
In 2014, the mouse was listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) due to loss of habitat and low population numbers.
Finding the mouse on Fishers Peak is not the first time it has been discovered in the region. Previously, the endangered mouse has been documented at Lake Dorothey State Wildlife Area east of the Fishers Peak property. It also was found in southwest Colorado at Navajo State Park near Pagosa Springs and along the Florida River east of Durango. All three of these areas were designated as “critical habitat” by the USFWS in 2016.
At Fishers Peak, the mouse was discovered during biological sampling of small mammal populations this summer by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The sampling was part of a resource survey initiated after CPW partnered with TNC, the Trust for Public Land, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the City of Trinidad to purchase Fishers Peak in February.
Biologists found the mouse living in two locations. CPW staff then captured additional animals and genetic material was sent for lab analysis that confirmed the presence of the mouse.
“We don’t expect this discovery to impact the development of the state park,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “The habitats where the mouse lives are important for many other wildlife species, as well. We don’t intend to disrupt them as we design the park. We will balance the needs of our visitors with the wildlife that call the property home.
“CPW will work closely with USFWS to ensure that development has minimal impact to habitat areas important for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and all wildlife at Fishers Peak.”
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