Ranchers Say Jaguars Have Enough Land

      ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – New Mexico ranchers say jaguars are doing just fine in Central and South America, and don’t need land as much as their cattle do.
     The New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association and New Mexico Federal Lands Council sued the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Federal Court on Wednesday, challenging their designation of critical habitat for the jaguar under the Endangered Species Act.
     Wild jaguars have been spotted and photographed in Southern Arizona and Hidalgo County, N.M., though the species is generally associated with tropical climates.
     A breeding population of jaguars lives in northern Mexico, but the ranchers claim there are no proven breeding populations in the United States, and that the open, dry areas of New Mexico would be of marginal benefit to jaguars, at the extreme edges of their known range.
     The Fish and Wildlife Service in March 2014 designated six areas as critical habitat for jaguar, including portions of Arizona and New Mexico, based on sightings of jaguar in those areas.
     The ranchers complain that sections of that land, including all of the designated habitat in New Mexico, is privately owned grazing land, and that the designation would limit their use of the land for cattle and hurt them financially.
     They want the critical habitat designation set aside and enjoined.
     They are represented by M. Reed Hopper with the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento.
     Attorneys for both sides did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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