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Endangered Arizona Jaguars Will Get Federal Recovery Plan

January 13, 2010

TUCSON, Ariz. - In a reversal of federal policy, endangered jaguars in Arizona and elsewhere along the Mexican border will soon benefit from a recovery plan and designation of critical habitat. Eva Sargent, Southwest program director with Defenders of Wildlife, says it's an essential first step on the long road to recovery for the large cats, which have roamed the region for thousands of years.

"They're a part of the Southwest. You know, we tend to think of them as tropical animals, but they did range all the way up to the Grand Canyon, and they ranged through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. So it's time to bring them back, and this recovery plan will be the first step in getting that done."

She says only four or five jaguars have been spotted in Arizona and New Mexico since 1996.

"Now, one of them died last year. But the thing is, we just need more monitoring and more research and that's one of the things I think the recovery plan will bring us is just more attention, so we'll know where these cats are and what they need."

A jaguar known as Macho-B was euthanized last March, 12 days after being captured by Arizona Game and Fish and fitted with a tracking collar. The cat was diagnosed with kidney failure by a veterinarian.

Sargent says the recovery plan could mean the difference between life and death for jaguars in the United States.

"It means the jaguars will have a chance in this country, so we are thrilled. And it's great to see strong leadership at the Fish and Wildlife Service. And we thank them for doing the right thing for jaguars."

Sargent says protection of wildlife corridors between Mexico and the United States is especially critical to the animal's recovery because there's a known population of jaguars in northern Sonora.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ