ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An environmental advocacy group has proposed that federal officials set aside millions of acres in Arizona and New Mexico to aid efforts to save endangered jaguars.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity recently told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the endangered cats need more than the 1,300 square miles the agency proposed in August.
For the jaguar to be saved, the animal also needs a reintroduction program that includes the two states and is similar to one for Mexican gray wolves, he said. However, the reintroduction program was not part of the group's proposal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The group asked for the critical habitat to be designated in parts of Gila National Forest and parts of Arizona.
"I think we have a chance to really affect the survival of the jaguar," Robinson said. He cited the habitat in the Gila and the federal Endangered Species Act as factors that allow the U.S. to help with any jaguar recovery effort.
Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, said the idea of setting aside millions of acres is "ridiculous" and there is no need to add land restrictions for an animal that can no longer survive in the region.
"There is no evidence that there have been any (jaguar) females in the region," Cowan said. "Besides, their habitat is Brazil. What part of the Gila National Forest resembles Brazil?"