WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a designation of critical habitat for the endangered jaguar, after the Arizona District Court decided the agency’s “not prudent” determination was legally insufficient.
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The agency plans to designate critical habitat, under the Endangered Species Act, in Arizona and New Mexico, according to a USFWS press release.
The agency’s action followed the Arizona District Court’s slamming the agency’s finding that it would not be prudent to show the world where endangered jaguars live, according to the press release.
The proposal suggests over 835,000 acres in six mountainous areas of Arizona and New Mexico that include state, federal, tribal and private lands identified by a bi-national team of scientists, the press release stated.
The proposed designation, a marginal area of the northern range of Mexico’s jaguar population, would provide a “recovery function” for the species, by providing areas for cyclic expansion and contraction and connectivity from the U.S. to Mexico, detailed the proposed regulation.
The agency listed the jaguar as endangered outside the U.S. in 1972 because the species was thought to be extinct in its U.S. range at that time, according to the proposal. After then proposing to protect it, and withdrawing the proposal due to failing to meet a time limit, the agency proposed the listing in 1994, only to be met with the 1995 Congressional moratorium that eliminated funding for final listing activities.
The species was finally listed as endangered in the U.S. in 1997, following a complaint by the Center for Biological Diversity, according the proposed rule. The critical habitat was not designated at that time due to fears that publication of detailed maps of the cats’ habitat would increase the threat to the species “through shooting or other means,” the proposed rule states. The Center for Biological Diversity then challenged the agency’s decision on critical habitat and the Arizona District Court set aside the agency’s prudency determination in 2009, according to the proposed regulation. “Like the gray wolf, jaguars were driven from the United States by federal and state predator-killing programs,” the Center for Biological Diversity said in its press release.
The proposed critical habitat in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, while not providing the species’ preferred tropical climate, does provide abundance of prey, primarily deer and peccary, year round water, vegetative cover such as Sinaloan thornscrub, and rugged topography for dens, the proposed rule details.
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