(Zapus hudsonius preblei)
A case study
Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. This species of mouse is unique to the Colorado Front Range and Wyoming. They live along streams and ditches and forage in grassy meadows. They eat mainly seeds, hibernate up to 8 months a year, and are good swimmers. Development along creeks has probably caused their populations to decline. However, some human actions have benefited the mouse.
Biologists have found higher densities of mice along man-made irrigation ditches than along nearby “natural” creeks. The highest concentration of Preble’s mice in the Boulder Valley is now found along the East Boulder Ditch. The City of Boulder has installed an “overpass” boardwalk on the Bobolink trail so that humans will not disturb mouse-trails running from the East Boulder Ditch to the creek. Mouse-sized “cat-walks” were installed in irrigation culverts under Highway 36, to help the mice travel along the ditch.
If endangered mice prefer man-made ditches, does that mean that ditches should be managed like creeks?
Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse is Object of the Month for May at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Please click here to learn more!
Right: Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse. Photo courtesy of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.