The absolute worst thing that can be done for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse — aside from traps and cats — is to list the tiny whiskered creature as an endangered species.
But that's what the federal government has done, in a controversial decision backed by lots of conservation groups but no real science.
What's truly endangered here is a family-owned business and the recreation activities of thousands of Americans.
"A family's livestock enterprise in New Mexico is in danger of being completely shut down now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the meadow jumping mouse to be an endangered species," reports the Daily Caller. "The new regulations came into effect from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month, and as a result, the U.S. Forest Service is considering installing 8-foot high fences to protect the mouse, which would permanently prevent the Lucero family's livestock from grazing."
In fact, two conservation groups pushed the declaration, and threatened to sue the government if it didn't comply.
"In 2011, the Department of Interior reached a settlement with conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity in U.S. District Court that led to more than 100 species gaining protections under the Endangered Species Act and another two dozen, including the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, proposed for listing," the Albuquerque Journal reported. "The Fish and Wildlife Service denied kowtowing to conservation groups or reacting to legal threats."
Be that as it may, the real point is that if the mouse is indeed threatened, the worst thing that could happen to it is to be put on the endangered species list.
For one thing, the Endangered Species Act has proven to be a colossal failure.
"Forty years ago, on Dec. 28, 1973, the Endangered Species Act became law," explain Damien Schiff and Julie MacDonald in the Wall Street Journal. "If you want to celebrate, you'll need to close your eyes to hard truths. A law intended to conserve species and habitat has brought about the recovery of only a fraction — less than 2 percent — of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened since 1973. Meanwhile, the law has endangered the economic health of many communities — while creating a cottage industry of litigation that does more to enrich environmental activist groups than benefit the environment."
In fact, the law often results in the destruction of species and habitats, rather than their protection.
"The chilling effect on property owners and economic activity has been profound," Schiff and MacDonald explain. "Discovering a listed species on your property is no longer cause for pride in the land's environmental richness and your chance to exercise responsible stewardship. It's a liability that is to be avoided at all costs."
Property owners have been known to clear-cut and plow under areas to drive out any species that might threaten their property rights.
If the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse (a subspecies, really) is endangered, then listing it as such is a terrible thing to do to it.