Welcome to the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation

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Wildlife

      Information Article

A harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) captured in a live trap.A desert pocket mouse being taken out of a live trap in order to be identified, measured and released.A Colorado River cotton rat in native vegetation at the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
  A harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) captured in a live trap.
Photo by Reclamation.
  A desert pocket mouse being taken out of a live trap in order to be identified, measured and released.
Photo by Reclamation.
  A Colorado River cotton rat in native vegetation at the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo by Reclamation.
 

A Yuma hispid cotton rat that was captured near Gadsen, Arizona in a bag so it can be weighed.A live trap set in typical habitat for the Colorado River cotton rat and Yuma hispid cotton rat.A Colorado River cotton rat ready to be released.
  A Yuma hispid cotton rat that was captured near Gadsen, Arizona in a bag so it can be weighed.
Photo by Reclamation.
  A live trap set in typical habitat for the Colorado River cotton rat and Yuma hispid cotton rat.
Photo by Reclamation.
  A Colorado River cotton rat ready to be released.
Photo by Reclamation.
 


Summer is Over and Rodent Surveys Begin!

The summer heat is over! It’s time for the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) to start surveys for the Colorado River cotton rat (Sigmodon arizonae plenus), Yuma hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus eremicus) and the desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus sobrinus). These secretive species become more active during the cooler temperatures of autumn.

How do we find and count rodents? Biologists set out live traps overnight in cottonwood-willow and mesquite habitat with dense grass or reeds covering the ground. The traps are a metal box containing cotton bedding and some yummy treats made of oats, peanut butter and vanilla extract.The small mammals that find a trap are attracted inside by the food and the door shuts behind them, leaving them safe inside. In the morning, the biologists arrive and take them out of the traps, determine their species, age, and sex, and then release them. This monitoring is being conducted to determine if these three species have colonized the habitat we created for them and helps us better understand their habitat needs.

Our program is creating thousands of acres of habitat for wildlife species – to be precise, 5,940 acres of cottonwood-willow, 512 acres of marsh and 1,320 acres of honey mesquite! Cotton rats use transitional habitats that may be found in cottonwood-willow stands or along marsh edges, so our habitat creation takes this into account. At least 75 acres of our created cottonwood-willow habitat is being planned near existing Yuma hispid cotton rat populations, to benefit these rodents, and at least 125 acres of the created marsh habitat will be designed to benefit Colorado River cotton rats.

Learn more about these species on our website here!

Updated December 18, 2017