Endangered Species

New Mexico – In a few hideouts around the Southwest, the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse has a precarious foothold on survival.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges the mouse found in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado deserves protection, but a listing proposal under the Endangered Species Act has languished because the agency has too much to do.

WildEarth Guardians is suing, accusing the agency of dragging its feet.

The lawsuit challenges a loophole in the Endangered Species Act that allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to delay listing a species if it has higher priorities. The group says the problem is the agency's Southwest region hasn't listed a high priority species since 2005.

The agency argues it can only do so much with the funding and staff that it has.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.