ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials are closing off sections of national forest land in southern New Mexico to protect an endangered mouse.
They say campers are tearing down barbed wire and electric fences that had been put in place to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and that disbursed camping is damaging the rodent's habitat.
The special closure order marks the latest development in the dispute over access to public land and water that has pitted ranchers and some state lawmakers against the U.S. Forest Service.
The agency initially began ordering closures and installing fences in the Lincoln and Santa Fe forests in 2014 after the mouse was listed as endangered.
Federal officials say the latest order is aimed at protecting habitat as well as public safety since some of the fences are electric.