New Mexico excluded from federal jaguar recovery efforts

Jaguars will not be reintroduced into New Mexico yet after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opted to remove the proposed acreage in the state from the species’ critical habitat.

The decision did not affect acreage in neighboring Arizona that was deemed necessary for the jaguar’s survival from extinction and future range expansion.

The Service announced Wednesday it was removing only the New Mexico acreage from the 764,207-acre critical habitat designation meant to conserve land needed for restoring the jaguar.

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That meant the critical habitat for the jaguar would shrink by an estimated 59,000 acres in the San Luis and Peloncillo mountain ranges in Hidalgo County in the southwest New Mexico boot heel. 

A map of critical habitat designated for jaguar recovery in Arizona. The New Mexico portion was excluded from the program.

The Peloncillos also run into Cochise County in western Arizona, and that acreage was unchanged by the ruling. Four other areas still to be used as habitat for the jaguar were mountain ranges in Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties in Arizona.

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The move was meant to comply with a January decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals implemented by New Mexico District Court, in response to a lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council.