The endangered Preble's meadow jumping mouse has Colorado Front Range developers running scared (HCN, 3/16/98), but proposed temporary protections from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may calm their fears. The small, secretive mouse lives near foothill mountain streams, and biologists believe that urban sprawl near Denver is contributing to its decline.

The agency's proposal would designate about 1,000 miles of stream in Colorado and Wyoming as either "mouse protection areas' or areas requiring further study. Outside these locations, mice killed by legal activities such as cattle grazing and rodent control would not be considered "take" under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal "does not freeze development on the Front Range," said Bruce Babbitt in his announcement of the proposal in Denver on Dec. 4. A Habitat Conservation Plan containing more specific measures is expected to replace the temporary protections within the next 18 months, says agency spokeswoman Sharon Rose.

For more information, call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 303/236-7917 ext. 415 or find a copy of the proposal on the Web at www.r6.fws.gov/preble/index.html. Written comments can be submitted until Feb. 1, 1999, to Leroy Carlson, Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, USFWS, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0207.