The U.S. Forest Service says it hasn't decided whether to fence off watering holes and other wetlands to protect an endangered mouse found in New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado.
Formal protections for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse took effect Thursday.
Along with the mouse's listing, the federal government wants to set aside critical habitat for the mouse along streams and wetlands in a dozen counties in the three states.
Forest officials have floated the idea of erecting 8-foot-tall fences in some areas.
The proposal has drawn fire from ranchers in the drought-stricken states. They say cutting off water supplies to livestock and potential effects for downstream users could devastate some rural communities.
Some ranchers are headed to Washington, D.C., later this month for a congressional hearing on the matter.
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