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Washington, D.C. - The announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it will allow farmers and ranchers to continue to operate without being prosecuted for the accidental killing of a Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough to keep Wyoming farmers and ranchers in business, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said.

Enzi said farmers and ranchers need more flexibility to plant different crops and take other measures in order to remain viable in an atmosphere of volatile markets and harsh weather such as drought.

"We are right to take steps to protect endangered species. We should work to ensure the survival of a species, but when these interests come into conflict with the vital interests of our citizens, it's the people we ought to be protecting," said Enzi.

The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a rule this week that exempted farmers and ranchers from certain provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The exemptions cover rodent control within 10 feet of a structure, ongoing agricultural activities as long as there is no increase of the impact on mouse habitat, maintenance and landscaping, irrigation and other activities. The exemption rule is scheduled to remain in effect for three years.

Enzi encouraged Wyomingites who live or work near mouse habitat to stay in contact with the U.S. Fish and wildlife and give their input.

"Any long-term conservation plan for the mouse must include the views of people who are most affected by efforts to protect the rodent. If people are concerned about this issue they need to let the Fish and Wildlife service know their views. My staff and I are here to assist, should anyone need help on how to proceed, " Enzi said. "The sound practices of farmers and ranchers helped improve the mouse's habitat in the first place. I believe we can manage our lands in a way that improves the habitat without destroying our economy. To do this we must have the cooperation of the Fish and Wildlife Service and continued recognition of the needs of farmers and ranchers and other Wyoming residents."