In West's latest land fight, New Mexico ranchers sue over access to habitat of protected mouse

Associated Press

New Mexico ranchers are suing the federal government over its attempts to limit their cattle's access to water and grazing areas after a tiny mouse won endangered-species protections in the Southwest.

Ranchers, the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, and several cattlemen groups filed their lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

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They contend their private property rights as well as the ranching traditions of some rural New Mexico communities near the Santa Fe and Lincoln national forests are at stake.

In the latest dispute over public lands in the West, the U.S. Forest Service has closed off some areas this year to prevent damage to the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Habitat protections have also been proposed for parts of Arizona and Colorado.