Conservationists call for expanding jaguar habitat in Arizona, New Mexico

October 22, 2012

A conservation organization wants millions of additional acres to be set aside for the population of endangered jaguars. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service released a proposed critical habitat area for jaguars, which have been designated as an endangered species since 1997.

Now, the Center for Biological Diversity has asked the government to expand the roughly 800,000 acres of land proposed into the millions. It would include the Mogollon Rim in Arizona and the Gila National Forest in New Mexico

“Jaguars have lived in the United States for thousands -- tens of thousands of years, they belong here, and they’re part of what keep the balance on what remains of our Southwestern wild lands," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. "These wild lands evolved with jaguars and can’t be complete without the jaguars’ return. So it’s a matter of ensuring that this animal doesn’t disappear into the black night of extinction.” 

Robinson says the expansion would also be a boon to the small and increasingly isolated jaguar population in northern Mexico. But opponents say expanding the habitat is unnecessary and could hurt the economy.

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