Dear Editor,

Filed under: Opinion |

In May of 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse as a threatened sub-species. From that time to his, various landowners, homeowners and governmental entities have, by USFW’s own estimates, spent some $60 million in El Paso County alone to protect the Preble’s.

Additionally, the realignment of the Highway 83 and Shoup Road intersection was delayed in protecting Preble’s habitat. This delay contributed, according to a former county commissioner, to five accidental deaths at that intersection.

It has been argued all during this time that there was no scientific basis for the listing and that the Preble’s was abundant in Colorado and Wyoming. Various lawsuits have been filed by various entities.

In December 2003, a study by the Denver Museum of Natural History disclosed by DNA testing that the supposed Preble’s was not a distinct sub-species but was a sub-species found in the millions all over the mountain West.

In March 2004, Philip Krutzch, the scientist who originally designated the Preble’s as a distinct sub-species, e-mailed the museum to state that its evidence was overwhelming and irrefutable and that he had been wrong in his original designation.

Now surely USFW will want to make amends to all those landowners they have wronged, to those governmental entities they have wronged, to all those homeowners who paid an inflated price due to Preble’s mitigation, to the relatives and family of the five individuals who were killed in automobile accidents at Highway 83 and Shoup Road, right?

Wrong.

USFW recently announced that affected parties should not expect to be compensated for their losses. USFW claims that it acted in good faith in 1998, using the best available science.

Wrong again.

There were a large number of scientists in early 1998 who said that there was very little information available on the Preble’s. They said such things as, “many questions remain,” “clearly, intensive study will be needed &,” and “very much more work remains to be done before anyone is qualified to speak to the ecology of the mouse.”

I suggest that there is a basis for several class-action lawsuits against USFW by the people whose land was taken without just compensation, by the people who had to pay for Preble’s surveys, by the homebuyers who had to pay a “stupid” premium for their new home in affected areas and by the families of those killed at Highway 83 and Shoup Road.

Time for the chickens to come to roost.

Robert B. Hoff

Colorado Springs