The Problem with Preble’s

By Mike Dubrasich

Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. Credit: USFWS. https://www.fws.gov/coloradofishandwildlife/recovery.php

Once upon a time there was a taxonomy war waged between two armed camps: the Lumpers and the Splitters. That war is history now, long over. The Splitters won and the Lumpers lost, big time.

For the uninitiated, Lumpers were the taxonomists who believed most animals and plants should be classified as members of a few well-defined species. They lost. The victorious Splitters are those who believe every individual organism is a species unto itself.

At first glance, it’s difficult to see how mild mannered, obsequious and bespectacled academics puttering around labs and peering into dissection scopes could be accused of warfare. The assertion seems a trifle hyperbolic for mixed company. But it was a war, with territorial conquest, mass destruction, casualties of combatants and non-combatants alike, and plenty of collateral damage.

One of the bloodiest battles was over a common rodent. The Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius) is a cute little furball distinguished by a long tapering tail, large hind feet, small front feet, and a propensity to hop erratically through the grass when disturbed. Sometimes called a kangaroo mouse, Z. hudsonius is native and common to Asia and North America, found from the Atlantic coast to the Great Plains, in the Southwest, in the Pacific Northwest, and northward to the arctic tree-line of Alaska and Canada, frequenting hayfields and wheat farms as well as native grasslands. Billions of the little critters live in perfect harmony with graziers and agriculturalists across two continents. They have the widest known distribution of mice in the subfamily Zapodinae.

That was before the Splitters weaponized the cowering wee beasties. Today there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of “recognized” species, sub-species, sub-subs, and Distinct Population Segments (DPS’s), including but not limited to:  Z. trinotatus orarius, Z. burti, Z. hudsonicus, Z. hudsonicus acadicus,· Z. hudsonius (Jumping Mouse), Z. hudsonius acadicus, Z. hudsonius alascensis (Alaska Jumping Mouse), Z. hudsonius alscensis, Z. hudsonius americanus, Z. hudsonius campestris, Z. hudsonius canadensis, Z. hudsonius hardyi, Z. hudsonius hodsonius, Z. hudsonius intermedius, Z. hudsonius ladas, Z. hudsonius luteus (Meadow Jumping Mouse), Z. hudsonius pallidus, Z. hudsonius preblei (Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse), Z. hudsonius tenellus, Z. insignis, Z. orarius, Z. princeps (Pacific Jumping Mouse), Z. princeps chrysogenys, Z. princeps cinereus, Z. princeps curtatus, Z. princeps idahoensis, Z. princeps kootenayensis, Z. princeps kootenayonsis, Z. princeps kootnayensis, Z. princeps luteus, Z. princeps major, Z. princeps minor, Z. princeps oreganus, Z. princeps oregonus (Big Jumping Mouse),  Z. princeps pacificus, Z. princeps palatinus, and  Z. princeps princeps (Western Jumping Mouse).

Is there any significant difference between these subspecies? Short answer: no. Dr. Matthew Cronin, PhD., Professor of Animal Genetics, Univ. Alaska Fairbanks, wrote in Cronin, M. A. 2007. The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse: subjective subspecies, advocacy and management. Correspondence, Animal Conservation 10 (2007) 159–161:

“… Briefly, the Preble’s mouse was designated a subspecies with limited descriptive morphological data. There are no diagnostic characters that unequivocally distinguish it from con-specifics. It does not have monophyletic mitochondrial DNA. It may be geographically isolated from, and have different allele frequencies than, con-specific populations. Sample sizes and locations studied are probably small relative to population numbers. The allele frequency differences are for DNA loci that are usually considered selectively neutral. There are no data documenting local adaptation…”

Limited descriptive morphology is akin to hog judging — not quite rigorous science. But no matter. Almost overnight, or so it seemed, one species became a plethora, and some of the obscure tribes were suggested to be, dum tata dum, in danger of going extinct! The Splitters got on the bandwagon and played mournful tunes across the land. Sue-happy enviros with monkeywrencher attorneys heard the dirge and danced a jig into court.

And so it came to pass that the Preble’s MJM (Zapus hudsonius preblei) was listed as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act by bureaucratic functionaries of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

When that happened, the proverbial stuff hit the fan because real people were really affected. Farmers, ranchers, and suburban home owners in the new Preble’s Zones stood to lose their homes, land, and livelihoods. The Preble’s MJM went off the ESA list and then back on, but only in certain states. The USFWS “experts” declared that the sub-species existed only up to a state line, which the mice never cross (for tax reasons, apparently). Congress got involved and fulminated. When the smoke finally cleared the battlefield, the deed was done and the war was lost. The Lumpers, what few of them were left, were defeated and cancelled. The spoils of war, mainly government grants and kickbacks, accrued to the victors.

That was 1995. Unsuccessful delisting litigations lasted until 2018. In the meantime, vast tracts of grassland were acquired and designated by various governments for Preble’s MJM habitat. Of course, ranching, farming, and dwellings were expressly forbidden on the preserves, because mice cannot co-exist with humans (or so it was claimed despite a zillion instances where they do). No Management was selected as the wisest course of action.

In due course the touchy-feelies in Boulder CO joined the victory parade. The Boulder County Comprehensive Plan designated Environmental Conservation Areas, Critical Wildlife Habitat and Migration Corridors, and Habitat Conservation Areas for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. These were selected areas “of unique habitat which has a crucial role in sustaining populations of native wildlife and in perpetuating and encouraging a diversity of native species.”

And in due course last December one of the selected areas and adjacent subdivisions had a predictable wildfire, which destroyed 1084 residential structures and damaged another 149. Thankfully there were only two fatalities. Total countywide value of residential damage from the Marshall Fire is estimated to be $513,212,589 [here]. Naturally, global warming was blamed [here] instead of bogus taxonomists, grasping political functionaries, dimwit planners, and deluded enviro zealots.

The mice probably did okay. After all, Jumping Mice have been surviving grass fires for millions of years. The humans not so much. As is customary in war, many non-combatants were collaterally damaged by scorched earth. Unscathed in any way are the Splitters and their pals, who are all fat, happy, and busy planning more disasters.

If you know of any Lumper, please show some compassion and drop some coins in his cup. He and his taxon served valiantly and nobly, albeit not triumphantly. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

About the author:  Mr. Dubrasich is a retired forester, forestry consultant, and forest biometrician. He was a founding partner of Pacific Analytics, LLC (statpros.com) and founder and former Executive Director of the Western Institute for Study of the Environment.

4.8 35 votes
Article Rating
90 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rah
January 27, 2022 2:08 am

Thanks much for expanding my horizons.

January 27, 2022 2:21 am

LOL!

Ron Long
January 27, 2022 2:30 am

What a report on the weaponization of genetics by “splitters”, whose only goal is control and funding. I grew up in timber country in SW Oregon, worked in fire crews and sawmills, and saw what happened to my friends when the Northern Spotted Owl assault began. The Northern Sotted Owl is not quite identical to the Barred Owl, but very similar according to appearance and dna. The Barred Owl is invading the space of the Northern Spotted Owl, but the Northern Spotted Owl enjoys protection under the Endangered Species Act. Many logging and timber processing operations were stopped in Oregon and nearby areas, and the economic impact was twofold. First Oregon suffered economic hardship, then British Columbia experienced an economic boom as they imported timber to the US to replace the domestic production (sort of like Biden and oil?). But here’s the punchline. The Barred Owls are breeding with the Northern Spotted Owls and the dna identification is totally blurred, and the splitters can’t seem to get the cross-breeding stopped.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 3:11 am

They should pass a law forbidding the 2 species to breed! /s

Gras Albert
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 27, 2022 5:31 am

It’ll never work, after all the law that tried to prevent congress critters from breeding has obviously failed

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Gras Albert
January 27, 2022 12:47 pm

Seems like their personalities would have a natural limiting effect.

Andy H
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 3:36 am

Perhaps they needs more lumber operations to create a owl-free zone that will prevent cross breeding. Thus preserving the genetic purity of both species for the environment. (Genetic purity sounds a bit dodgy to me, where have I heard that before?)

Sean
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 3:56 am

Perhaps they just need to start calling lumber renewable fuel. Then the climate zealots would be justified in creating wood pellets for power generation.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Sean
January 27, 2022 5:37 am

The EU already considers wood for energy as a renewable resource.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Sean
January 27, 2022 12:58 pm

They did. Back in 2009 when Obama first got going on his green economy and lawyers holding hands with federal bureaucrats were crawling all over our annual forest products tradeshow in Portland, dirty, polluting, smelly pulp mills became “biorefineries”. Laugh if you want but I swear to Buda it’s true.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Citizen Smith
January 27, 2022 2:31 pm

But is it true on the Pesth side of the river?

John Tillman
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 4:08 am

The spotted owl as a whole is rated “Near Threatened”, the next lower rank of seven from “Least Concern”.

Three subspecies are recognized. The Northern SO ranges from BC to Marin County. Its range overlaps the Californian SO’s, whose distribution extends father south. The Mexican SO lives in isolated populations in the southern Rockies and northern Mexico.

SOs prefer old growth forest, but can survive in less mature trees or snags. Even the Northern was never really threatened.

Barred owls belong to the same genus, Strix, but are native to Eastern North America. They’ve expanded their range. Conservationists consider them invasive in the West.

Last edited 3 months ago by John Tillman
Ron Long
Reply to  John Tillman
January 27, 2022 4:18 am

John, I think we both grew up in Oregon. My wife and I are going to come over the hill to Reñaca for a week sometime soon, perhaps we could meet for a lunch? Like at Cap Ducal?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 5:39 am

you’re not sure where you grew up? sorry- couldn’t help being a “wise guy”

Ron Long
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 27, 2022 9:37 am

Joseph, I presume you saw my previous comment about uncertainty for the term “grew up” referencing my early years in Oregon. That was a realistic comment, and your wise guy question is right on. But here it is: I didn’t grow up until I was in Vietnam in 1969, and I have before and after college grades to prove it.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 1:26 pm

Oh, right- forgot- those were my hippy days- grew up later when I had to survive in the real world. Reality is good for that purpose- maybe our governments will face reality soon regarding the energy issue.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 6:28 am

Cap Ducal reopened this month. At least the hotel. I assume the restaurant, too, but haven’t been there.

Would be great to meet. Denisse will probably be working, so we can speak English. Or Oregoonian.

I recently got sunburnt on Sector 1 of Playa Larga.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Tillman
January 27, 2022 5:42 am

“Conservationists consider them invasive in the West.”

Lots of invasive species in the northeast- but, it’s a waste of energy trying to stop them. Better to just get used to them. Same for the owl thing— better to get the forests back into production. Good forestry is a very, very good thing. I have a very potent dislike for those who can’t grasp that- partly because so much forestry everywhere was poorly done.

Ron Long
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 27, 2022 6:02 am

You’re right, Joseph. The use of the Spotted Owl to stop forestry in Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) the impact on edge-dependent species (those that need open space to eat and timber to shelter) was such that 10,000 elk died a premature death. The clear-cut has deer and elk food from about 2 years to 12 years after trees are harvested, until the planted replacement trees get tall enough to shadow the forbs and grasses. Who in their right mind would trade 10,000 elk for several hundred Spotted Owls?

MarkW
Reply to  Ron Long
January 27, 2022 8:14 am

The issue was never about the animals, they are just a tool to expel humans from as much of nature as possible.

observa
January 27, 2022 2:36 am

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

H.R.
Reply to  observa
January 27, 2022 4:44 am

Don’t blame the mice. I don’t think they planned any of this.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  H.R.
January 27, 2022 9:24 am

Mice are cleverer than you think!

After all they were the most intelligent species on Earth which they had created as a successor to supercomputer Deep Thought, to discover the secret of life, the universe and everything, and were livid when the Vogons destroyed Earth just a few minutes before their experiment was complete.

January 27, 2022 2:38 am

Most so called ‘scientists’ these days are the sort of people who would have been more effectively engaged in factory work in the early stages of the industrial revolution.
In fact, lab work is pretty similar to factory work now I come to think of it.
The difference is that instead of producing something useful they spend their lifetimes adding more and more unnecessary complexity to everything. Much like our bureaucracy.
The tragedy is that they are paid by the State either directly or via grants which is why we now have more than 50% of the population in the western democracies either paid by, or dependent on, taxpayer money.
At that point it becomes impossible to run a democratic society effectively.

fretslider
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
January 27, 2022 2:48 am

In fact, lab work is pretty similar to factory work now”

In the early 70s the chemistry and microbiology labs I worked in started their push toward what we used to call push-button chemistry.

All the manual methods and the skills involved were gradually replaced by machines. You prep the sample, then press the button.

yirgach
Reply to  fretslider
January 27, 2022 5:39 am

Although it has been somewhat automated, I think microbiology still has a lot of human judgement involved. One of the few disciplines left in the lab…

fretslider
Reply to  yirgach
January 27, 2022 5:53 am

Hence the term push-button chemistry



Peta of Newark
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
January 27, 2022 3:01 am

Sums up what, by many accounts, toppled Ancient Rome. Everyone wanted to be a ‘Patrician’ or = Father of the City
And so it was made to be, there became more Chiefs than Indians
IOW: There were more tax collectors and tax spenders than folks doing any real work and creating money for the collectors to collect

Is that The Fatal Flaw = the thing that topples Civilisations?
i.e. Some bureaucracy is good but *more* bureaucracy is bad.
Not because ‘The Climate Changed’ as many assert.

Have ‘we’ got there yet?
It doesn’t help when the current ‘leaders’ are:

  • A drunkard (UK)
  • Senile demented (US)
  • Petty and vindictive (France)
  • A child (Canadia)
  • Paranoid about starting WW3 (Germany)

edit to PS
I had ‘little mouse’ yesterday..
Aaaages ago I bought some daffodil (and other) bulbs for the garden but my Sciatica meant I left them to ‘store’ under a big plastic bucket, under a tree on the lawn.
Buy yesterday, The Climate Changed, El Sol made an appearance and the Celsiuses skyrocketed
So off I went to recover said bulbs and actually plant them.

And there, in among some shredded plastic and half eaten bulbs was an apparently deserted ‘nest’
I planted one bag of bulbs and when I came back for another, cleared away the ‘nest’
And a wee critter just like the picture here scampered away – it went under my Leylandii Forest.
I felt genuinely sorry for disturbing it but tinged with cross-ness that the little shit had eaten half my flower bulbs…

Last edited 3 months ago by Peta of Newark
M Courtney
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 27, 2022 4:48 am

Bit harsh on Macron, I think. It’s a tough gig trying to motivate and unify French people.
A bit soft on Johnson. A “crooked drunk” would be more apposite.
Agree with the rest of the assessments though.

Climate believer
Reply to  M Courtney
January 27, 2022 6:16 am

Your defence of Macron is laughable, Macron hates the people, he spends many hours each day inventing new ways to divide us. His government has spent the last five years ruining everything it touches.

God help us if we get another 5 years of him and his cronies.

Richard Page
Reply to  M Courtney
January 27, 2022 12:37 pm

Very soft on Johnson – less a drunkard and more being a fool who is completely under the control of his idiot wife. As for Germany, half right – they are compulsive empire builders paranoid about starting ww3

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Page
otropogo
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2022 11:29 am

Hey Peta!

Do you realize your making Putin and Xi look good?

“Have ‘we’ got there yet?
It doesn’t help when the current ‘leaders’ are:

  • A drunkard (UK)
  • Senile demented (US)
  • Petty and vindictive (France)
  • A child (Canadia)
  • Paranoid about starting WW3 (Germany)”

And if “Germany” and Justin Trudeau are world leaders, as you say, who the hell are their followers? I’d bet most of the world’s population don’t even know the names of the “leaders” of Canada and Germany. And thoughtful occupants of those countries would likely agree that their nominal leaders are only hand puppets.

Not sure about the real powers of Putin, Xi, Biden and Macron.

But one has to wonder about the quality of world leaders’ “intelligence” when considering that all of the US spooks ‘failed’ to catch the PR hoax regarding 50 murdered Kuwaiti premies fabricated by the teenage niece of the Kuwaiti ambassador.

If Trump had ever had REAL POWER as president, he could surely have purged all the US intelligence services just by exposing how that intelligence ‘failure’ in the first gulf war came about. You can’t wield power without reliable intelligence, but you can be a useful figurehead for those who do…

fretslider
January 27, 2022 2:41 am

“And so it came to pass that the Preble’s MJM (Zapus hudsonius preblei) was listed as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act by bureaucratic functionaries of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Listen. The only people we hate more than the bureaucratic functionaries… are the ‘ Judean Species Front.

Yeah! Splitters!

I don’t think there is an area of science that hasn’t been compromised by activists and advocates.

Last edited 3 months ago by fretslider
John Tillman
Reply to  fretslider
January 27, 2022 4:18 am

Re. USFWS zaniness, don’t get me started on the “red wolf”, which is a coyote, but FWS has a breeding program in NC to produce bigger imported TX coyotes, to the detriment of local farmers. The bureaucrats can’t understand why their released “wolves” keep breeding with Eastern coyotes. But their funding is vital to save the “species”.

eyesonu
Reply to  John Tillman
January 27, 2022 5:58 am

Good comment John. I’ll not get you started on the so-called “red wolf” programs as that very thought would get me started. USFWS should be scaled back considerably just due to the fact that they are even associated with such a scandalous endeavor.

John Tillman
Reply to  eyesonu
January 27, 2022 6:30 am

I hoped that the Trump Adminiistration would end the idiotic boondoggle. It was recognized as phony from the start, but DNA shows indubitably that “red wolves” are coyotes. Case closed.

Coyotes don’t need a breeding program. They’ve extended their range since Europeans arrived.

Tom Halla
Reply to  John Tillman
January 27, 2022 8:06 am

Red Wolves are a coyote/gray wolf cross, which is the issue. When a beastie is a clear hybrid, is it the parent species’, or a new different species?

paul courtney
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 27, 2022 8:37 am

Mr. Halla: The US gov’t takes a back seat to no other gov’t when it comes to preservation of cross-bred hybrids. We are currently engaged in an all-out public health emergency to preserve the hybrid COVID, created when a bat kissed a pangolin. Dr. Fauci’s miracle elixer has guaranteed that we will not eliminate this sub species.

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 6, 2022 6:41 am

Thank you, John and Tom, for educating me about the so-called “red wolf” here in NC.

The WaPo‘s Darryl Fears is predictably on the “splitter” side of the argument. For balance here is his 2019 article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/04/02/there-was-actually-study-determine-if-red-wolves-are-wolves-answer-could-have-doomed-them/

Here’re a few excerpts from the article:

When red wolves were going extinct in the late 1970s, they could no longer be choosy about mates. They were breeding with coyotes so often that Fish and Wildlife officials rushed in to Texas and Louisiana to grab the last pure red wolves, place them in zoos and attempt to resurrect the species through breeding. [but] red wolves did not have so much sex with coyotes that they mated themselves out of existence.

And:

…when mates are available red wolves exhibit assortative mating.”

That is another way of saying when a red wolf has a choice between another red wolf and a coyote, the coyote does not cut it.

That’s supposed to mean they should be considered separate species. It strikes me that if that criteria were applied to humans, it would mean that human beings would have to be considered to be several different species, since different ethnic groups exhibit clear patterns of “assortative mating.”

The WaPo article leans heavily on this NAS report, in support of the red wolf program:

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25351/evaluating-the-taxonomic-status-of-the-mexican-gray-wolf-and-the-red-wolf

The WaPo article cites it, saying:

While red wolves are more genetically related to coyotes than gray wolves, “the red wolf has some degree of genetic ancestry not found in reference populations of western gray wolves or coyotes,” the study said.

The WaPo also says,

…and red wolves have a gene linked to gray wolves on Galveston Island that coyotes lack.

“Some degree” and “a gene” (out of some 20,000) eh? It sounds like they’re really stretching to justify the conclusion they want to reach.

Again, if those criteria were applied to homo sapiens it would mean that we should be divided into multiple species. I hope that, despite the influence of Critical Race Theory and grievance studies, we’ve not regressed all they way back to that point.

fretslider
Reply to  John Tillman
January 27, 2022 7:43 am

In the UK [selective] rewilding takes some extraordinary turns.

It is a fact that there were once bears and wolves in the UK

But they are the two species that will never ever be restored. Rewilding really means saving money by not managing the weeds, dredging the rivers etc

Fran
Reply to  fretslider
January 27, 2022 9:14 am

What I find funny is tthe UK importing beavers to the Cotswalds. Is that not an area where there are extensive orchards? In one night a beaver can take down several fruit trees.

Mike Jonas(@egrey1)
Editor
Reply to  Fran
January 27, 2022 12:05 pm

Yes, beavers come immediately to mind. All those years of campaigning to protect trees, and then they import beavers.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 27, 2022 1:27 pm

Speaking of such, a famous line from the Leave it to Beaver show, ‘Beaver’s mother says to his father, “Ward, you were awful hard on the Beaver last night”.

eyesonu
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 27, 2022 2:22 pm

Tom, some beavers are more tender than others!

Richard Page
Reply to  Fran
January 28, 2022 10:10 am

They’ve gone bonkers with the idea of importing species into areas of the UK. Trouble is that they haven’t consulted with knowledgeable ecologists on which are the appropriate areas to do this; the result being that they are importing species into completely unsuitable areas where they will become pests and have to be dealt with. There is a project underway to reintroduce Lynx into certain areas to control deer populations that are causing problems such as overgrazing and damaging trees. Beavers are also causing problems in areas of Scotland and England where they are eroding flood defences as well as damaging trees. Enthusiastic and well-meaning idiots without a clue.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  fretslider
January 27, 2022 9:38 am

Don’t dredge the rivers end up with more floods. Good for some species, less so for others.

January 27, 2022 2:41 am

No need for the concept of a cline then, and also the process of reversion to type.

commieBob
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 27, 2022 4:20 am

Indeed. There is the concept of epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.

So, you can have two critters with exactly the same genes but with different characteristics. IMHO, the important thing is the preservation of the DNA and not the characteristics that express themselves in different environments.

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
January 27, 2022 6:34 am

Corn (maize) and its wild grass ancestor teosinte look very little alike, but their coding DNA is the same. The whole domestication process relied on epigenetics.

There are four species. Here’s one:

comment image

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 27, 2022 6:44 am

If in a circular distribution, known as a ring species, but can be linear, in which members at the two ends of a geographic range can’t produce fertile offspring together, but those groups in the middle are interfertile with both extremes.

https://bioone.org/journals/copeia/volume-104/issue-1/OT-14-176/Wherefore-and-Whither-the-Ring-Species/10.1643/OT-14-176.short#:~:text=A%20ring%20species%20is%20a,contact%20characterized%20by%20reproductive%20isolation.

Redge
January 27, 2022 4:27 am

The victorious Splitters are those who believe every individual organism is a species unto itself.

I think the Greens are a different species.

A dark, dangerous, invasive species.

Scissor
January 27, 2022 4:43 am

I’m in this area and have taken an interest in learning what can be done to minimize future wildfire damage. Some patterns like the domino effect are in play but there are a lot of exceptions. The wildfire was predominantly a wind driven grass fire. It appears that many structures were lost where terrain created conditions that allowed hot ash and embers to settle. For the most part, ignition took place at or just above ground level.

The vast majority of structures lost were wood structures with combustible exteriors. Commercial structures with concrete exteriors mostly went unscathed. It’s best not to be downwind of fuel sources. Structures closest to fire stations generally survived, but this event was chaotic and exceeded resource capacity. Some homes were saved through the use of ordinary garden hoses, but at risk of life. In that regard, it’s best to have a bug-out bag prepared to be able to flee on short warning.

Based on terrain, future fires will probably behave similarly in the same places. The city of Boulder needs to be held to some account for allowing fuel loads to build to high levels on their “open space.”

I have noticed that raptors are having an easier time of catching prey, which are now less well hidden and which much venture further in search of food.

Quelgeek
January 27, 2022 5:38 am

No matter what their views on the subject no one could regret reading such an engagingly-written article.

oeman 50
January 27, 2022 6:00 am

BTW, these jumping mice also live on Dune, where the natives all them maud’dib.

oeman 50
Reply to  oeman 50
January 27, 2022 6:00 am

call.

Richard Page
Reply to  oeman 50
January 27, 2022 12:42 pm

Muad’dib.

H. D. Hoese
January 27, 2022 6:05 am

It’s going to get more interesting and complicated. Mullet ain’t mice, but they both are all over their world-wide habitat.

J.-D.Durand, et al., 2012. Systematics of the grey mullets (Teleostei: Mugiliformes: Mugilidae): Molecular phylogenetic evidence challenges two centuries of morphology-based taxonomy.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.64(1):73-92.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
January 27, 2022 6:25 am

I forgot the link if there are any mullet lovers around. Also the endangered species act was for species, not all the varieties that one could recognize.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2012.03.006

Duane
January 27, 2022 6:12 am

I am reminded of the grossly-misrepresented “Florida panther”. This was (I say “was” purposefully) simply cougars who lived in Florida, and whose numbers were greatly reduced by the development within the Everglades and what later became the “Big Cypress Preserve”. Their only distinguishing characteristic was a kink in the tail and a tendency to suffer from hip displasia and other birth defects – two manifestations of excessive inbreeding. By around the late 1980s, their numbers were supposedly down to around 25-30 animals. The threatened and endangered species act had already kicked, and the enviros made the so-called “Florida Panther” a victim of over-development, and the activist biologists intervened. Little children were taught to “save the Florida Panther!”.

They did “save” the Florida Panthers in the 1990s by seizing some of the cougars from the wild, then interbred them with cougars from Texas (meaning, of course, that they were members of the same species), and then reintroduced their offspring into the glades. Well, even if there ever was a “Florida Panther” species – of course that was proven untrue by the interbreeding – the so called endangered species was long gone when the population was essentially replaced by Texas cougars. The numbers have since climbed to several hundred animals who are suffering less from birth defects due to excessive inbreeding. And the activist biologists have claimed a big success in “rescuing” the so-called “Florida Panther” which of course never really existed as a species.

That’s the splitters for you.

paul courtney
Reply to  Duane
January 27, 2022 8:42 am

Mr. Duane: Gee, I wonder if the same approach will, one day, let the AGW crowd take credit for saving the planet?

Tropical Lutefisk
Reply to  Duane
January 28, 2022 4:56 am

When I moved to FL, I learned all about the endangered Florida panther and my spidey senses immediately went awry. First, as Duane points out, there never really was a distinct separate species. Sure it had some morphological peculiarities but that alone does not make a species. Then I was hearing about how endangered they are. Supposedly, there are barely over a thousand in the entire state. However, every year over 100 are killed by cars. So almost 10% of the entire population is wiped out by cars alone in a single year. Really? If so, I’d imagine the entire population would be gone by now. This is not the case so I can reasonably assume the population is much larger and more stable than currently reported.

Reply to  Duane
February 6, 2022 5:27 am

Thank you for educating me about the so-called “Florida Panther,” Duane.

eyesonu
January 27, 2022 6:14 am

Mike Dubrasich nails it with the “hog-judging” analogy! I think it’s more like a “hog-calling” contest where the contestants are squalling their version for grant monies. The winners are in the eyes ears of the beholder gifter of those grants. But a “hog-calling” and “hog-judging” show it is!

Neo
January 27, 2022 6:45 am

When they took the Bald Eagle off the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the vast majority of the remaining critters were mice and voles .. a tough sell (vs the Bald Eagle).

David
January 27, 2022 6:47 am

Great article. Puts into light the classification problem when determining if a specie is endangered. I would never have thought of this. Thanks.

Bruce Ranta
January 27, 2022 7:18 am

In Canada, there are about the same number of caribou as there are white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose combined. Sometimes more, sometimes less; populations fluctuate. And all caribou – and reindeer – are the same species.
But the splitters have successfully divided caribou down to the level of ecotype (another subjective level of taxonomic classification) and the Canadian landscape is literally littered with caribou that are threatened with extinction.
Caribou management (protection) is a huge industry in constant battle with forestry, mining and other interests.
But for the most part, Aboriginals can hunt them without regard to licenses, seasons or limits, which is a significant reason behind the struggles of many caribou populations.
It’s all just ridiculous.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bruce Ranta
Nick Schroeder
January 27, 2022 7:19 am

The green space/wetland behind my new (2 yrs) house is Preble’s territory as is much of the surrounding greenspace of the housing development.
I doubt the bobcat and hawks got the memo.
Just another greenie feel good jerk off.

Coach Springer
January 27, 2022 7:33 am

Splitting (the taxonomy magnifying glass) generally fits alarmism quite well. As well as magnifying the importance of the taxonomist.

I have watched ichthyologists go the same route through the perspective of my aquarist hobby. They are the embodiment of self-created importance.

Bruce Cobb
January 27, 2022 7:41 am

Not to mention all the trouble with Tribles.
Oops.

MarkW
January 27, 2022 8:11 am

The purpose has always been to lock away as much of the planet as possible so that it can be pure and totally unaffected by the evil mankind.

Rob_Dawg
January 27, 2022 10:17 am

If aliens were to grab an airplane and establish taxonomy based on the occupants I suspect their lumpers would find a few species of humans and their splitters would find dozens.

Mike Dubrasich
January 27, 2022 10:19 am

Thank you all for the lovely comments, especially Ron and John, my Lumpy Snowbird erstwhile neighbors. The list of phony sub-version species is very long, much to the delight of the despicable rodents gnawing on the country.

Chaswarnertoo
January 27, 2022 10:31 am

Time to lump hammer the splitters. More jobs for the boys with the splitters.

Mr. Lee
January 27, 2022 11:32 am

Came for the Star Trek reference. Stayed for the article!

David Wolcott
January 27, 2022 11:46 am

I don’t think Splitters realize what they are philosophically committed to. Presumably most are scientists who profess to believe in Darwinian natural selection, so they are committed to believing that the origin of species (and subspecies) occurs through natural, mechanical mechanisms, like numbers generated by a random number generator. Valuing one species over another is therefore like valuing 64789 over 75321. The only justification for placing value on an individual species is if it was created by God. It follows that Splitters are committed to accepting Creationism.

John Hultquist
January 27, 2022 11:50 am

I’m familiar with the jumping mouse of Washington State, in the North Cascades. Cute and troublesome, for hikers, backpackers, and trail crews.
Pacific jumping mouse (Zapus trinotatus), so wiki claims 

bonbon
January 27, 2022 12:01 pm

Not to hijack the thread, but look at this : the new NeoCoV Corona virus strain :
The progenitor’ of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, now dominant in many countries, “jumped from humans to mice, rapidly accumulated mutations conducive to infecting that host, then jumped back into humans.
See the mutation signatures….

Looks like we are in for a much worse virus pandemic with MERS-CoV, fatality rate at 34-35% since its emergence in 2012, which is much higher than SARS-CoV-2 with its 10% rate.

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.24.477490v1

Richard Page
Reply to  bonbon
January 27, 2022 12:49 pm

Heh, ‘jumped’ did it? All by itself? That’s funny, in a darkly humorous way.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  bonbon
January 27, 2022 1:23 pm

All of the authors of the paper are Chinese. Taken with several shakers of salt.

eyesonu
Reply to  bonbon
January 27, 2022 2:57 pm

Bonbon, you didn’t like the thread discussion? Have you heard the latest Micky mouse jokes? I’ll let you know at an appropriate time.

bonbon
Reply to  eyesonu
January 28, 2022 4:46 am

It is a change from bats. And the theme is mice after all, not bats.

otropogo
Reply to  bonbon
January 30, 2022 12:17 pm

One of the many mysteries in the Covid-19 story is why the virus spread like wildfire from humans to farmed mink, and then back to humans, according to evidence from Holland and Canada, yet the orthodox medical gurus who monopolize Covid news claim categorically that while cats and dogs also easily catch Covid from humans, they CANNOT transmit the virus to humans, and this without the slightest clinical or experimental evidence or explanation.

One would expect that, given the obvious risk of contagion via pets, there would have been furious experiments and tracing to nail down this thorny question from the time of the first evidence of human to cat transmission very early in the pandemic. But nothing of the sort has been reported. Nor has a vaccine for pets been offered.

If the ‘wet-market’ magicians of Wuhan or their successors wanted to produce a much more effective pandemic next time, all they would have to do is make sure pet to human transmission works as well as human to pet.

Reply to  otropogo
February 6, 2022 5:33 am

Given the extreme vulnerability of mink to Covid-19, I do not understand why pharmaceutical companies have not bought up or contracted with mink farms, to test their vaccines and therapeutics.

dilbertwyoming
January 27, 2022 12:07 pm

Much the same has happened with wolves and grizzly bear in the lower 48. Although abundant in Canada and Alaska, both have a limited range in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the US. Within this limited range, they are considered endangered and a constant target of lawsuits where lethal population control methods are used.

Neither the bear or wolves are in any danger of overall extinction. But because their numbers are limited within regions, they are protected within those regions.

Mike G
January 27, 2022 2:45 pm

Just wondering if the Fire Marshall investigated the Marshall Fire?

Kip Hansen(@kiphansen2)
Editor
January 27, 2022 3:34 pm

Marvelous ! Thank you.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kip Hansen
Peter Morris
January 28, 2022 4:13 am

I knew weaponization of science had gotten bad, but I didn’t realize how utterly insane it had become.

ian
January 28, 2022 9:36 am

The battle between ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’ has been going on for as long as I remember (I already hit 70). The driving force with the ‘splitters’ seems to be evolution. Every possible deviation from a population standard is viewed as ‘evolution in action’ and that ‘evolutionary path’ must be protected. On the other hand, the ‘lumpers’ see these differences as ‘variation within a kind’, where different alleles are expressed due to population pressures and environmental differences. The ‘lumpers’ are driven by the measurable science, but the ‘splitters’ are driven by ideology, no matter what the data says. This makes the ‘splitters’ into religious zealots, much the same as the ‘global warming’ zealots. Facts and data will never change their minds. They are a lot like the liberals who think that Joe Biden is doing a wonderful job, even while the country is going down the toilet, and American citizens were abandoned to the Taliban … ‘Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes!’

ian

otropogo
January 30, 2022 10:48 am

Excellent article, but somewhat misleading. There have been (and perhaps continue to be) some very significant splitter reversals in recent years. I’ve seen a lay reference book from the 1950s claiming that there are a dozen or so sub-species of brown bear in North America alone, whereas more recently it has been seriously suggested that polar bears are merely regionally adapted brown bears. Certainly the uniformity of Ursus Arctos as the “brown bear” found all across the Northern hemisphere doesn’t seem to be under attack.

The article confirms my view that the greatest immediate threat to both humanity and the other more complex life forms of earth is neither pandemic nor climate change, but a tsunami of dishonesty, stupidity, greed, and short-sightedness.

It’s conceivable that a sudden genuine global catastrophy is humanity’s only hope of recovering its moral and intellectual compass before it makes the planet uninhabitable, since this behavior seems to have become institutionalized everywhere by those who control the levers of power.

February 6, 2022 5:36 am

This is a truly wonderful article. It is as educational as it is entertaining. A+

%d bloggers like this: