Mouse species not seen since 1968 is found in North Carolina

Charlotte ObserverMarch 15, 2011 

Call it beginner's luck. Biology student Rob Gilson found a critter so rare it hadn't been seen in Mecklenburg County since 1968.

A palm-sized oldfield mouse succumbed to Gilson's lure of sunflower seeds and was trapped at Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge on Feb. 20.

North Carolina marks the northern edge of the mouse's range. It has been documented in the state only three times, and North Carolina lists it as a species of special concern.

"It's almost like the ivory-billed woodpecker for our region," said Lenny Lampel, a Mecklenburg County biologist who mentors Gilson.

The discovery also marks another triumph - the near completion of a decade of work to inventory Mecklenburg's plants and animals for the first time.

County naturalists, biologists and volunteers have surveyed birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and many invertebrates from dragonflies to butterflies. Most of it has been done with grants, not tax money.

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