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Jaguar Recovery Plan for Habitat Areas 04/25 06:33

   TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A plan by wildlife officials to bolster the endangered 
jaguar population in the U.S. Southwest and Mexico by establishing two 
sprawling habitat areas drew criticism Wednesday from environmental groups.

   The final recovery plan for the large cats was released by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.

   It calls for one habitat area from western Mexico into southern Arizona and 
southwest New Mexico. The other would stretch from eastern Mexico to northern 
Argentina.

   Mexico as well as countries in Central and South America would be primarily 
responsible for monitoring jaguar movements within their territory, according 
to the plan.

   Environmental groups slammed the plan. Michael Robinson of the Center for 
Biological Diversity called it "feeble" because it "relies entirely on Mexico 
to ensure the cats' survival."

   Robinson says the ability of the animals to roam the proposed area 
straddling the U.S. and Mexico could be stymied if the Trump administration 
builds a wall along the border.

   Even with gaps to accommodate jaguars, a wall would cut off the possibility 
of the animals recovering in their native range, he said.

   Defenders of Wildlife said the U.S. agency is overlooking millions of acres 
of potential habitat farther north in the U.S.

   Jaguars are currently found in 19 countries, but only seven male jaguars 
have been seen in Arizona and New Mexico since 1996. The animals have been 
protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1997.

   Shrinking habitats, insufficient prey, poaching and retaliatory killings 
over livestock deaths are some of the things that have contributed to the 
jaguar's decline in the U.S. Southwest over the past 150 years.

   The Center for Biological Diversity released video in 2017 of a male jaguar 
spotted on camera in southern Arizona. Conservationists had hoped it would turn 
out to be the first female jaguar to be seen in decades. 


(KA)

 
 
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