SANTA FE, N.M. — It hasn’t reached the fever-pitch of the showdown involving Cliven Bundy, but a handful of ranchers in southern New Mexico have locked horns with the federal government.
Their complaint? Officials at the U.S. Forest Service have fenced off access to water for the ranchers’ grazing cattle because the feds want to protect the habitat of the meadow jumping mouse, which is expected to be listed as an endangered species next month.
The Forest Service says it is worried cattle will damage 23 acres along the Agua Chiquita that includes a natural spring it says is essential the protect the ecosystem for the mouse.
Ranchers are angry the feds have reinforced locks and fences to keep out their cattle, thirsty from a long drought that has hit New Mexico. Besides, they say, the land belongs to a local rancher.
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