New Mexico Family's Livelihood At Risk Due To U.S. Forest Service's Proposed Fence

| by Will Hagle

In response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent classification of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species, the U.S. Forest Service is considering constructing a series of fences in order to manufacture an artificial border surrounding the animal’s natural habitat. 

That habitat is in the Santa Fe National Forest, where Watchdog reports the Lucero family has been grazing livestock for more than a century. The proposed fence threatens to cut through the Lucero family’s property, forcing cattle away from the area in which they typically graze. 

The family is aware that the federal government is simply acting under the laws laid out in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which requires action and intervention when a species is classified as endangered. Grazing has been considered a threat to the mouse’s survival. 

Orlando Lucero noted that the family understands the importance of protecting the mouse, but still feels as if the government has failed to take the family property into consideration.

“We’re not insensitive to protecting the mouse, but let’s work on something that keeps everyone’s interests in mind,” Lucero said.

The Lucero family also claims that the U.S. Forest Service is considering constructing the fence for three miles, extending it through a popular tourist destination at the San Antonio Campground. 

Robert Trujillo, director of Wildlife, Fish and Rare Plants for the Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service, denied any plans to extend the fence but acknowledged that it was a possibility. 

“The San Antonio area, from what I’ve seen, is in the upper portion of that occupied habitat. It possibly could (be affected) but no decision has been made on that,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo added that the fence itself would be the most effective way of ensuring the continuation of the meadow jumping mouse species.

“It’s been our experience that a fence like that to protect that occupied habitat seems to be the best way we can do our affirmative duty and protect the habitat,” he said.