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PNS Daily Newscast - July 13, 2018 


The FBI’s Peter Strzok spends 10 hours in open testimony in Congress. Also on the Friday rundown: Granite Staters protest AG Sessions' approach to fighting opioid abuse, and Latino Conservation Week starts on Saturday.

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New Report Makes a Case for Broader Jaguar Habitat in NM

Bringing Jaguars Back into the U.S. Southwest (Defenders of Wildlife/UCLA School of Geography)
March 22, 2017

SANTA FE, N. M. – Jaguars once roamed much of the southwest but today, there are only three thought to be living in the United States, all in Arizona. Now, a new report says don't count New Mexico out as jaguar turf.

The group Defenders of Wildlife has analyzed the Jaguar Draft Recovery Plan, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December. That plan said the area between the U.S.-Mexico border and Interstate 10 in New Mexico and Arizona could only support two to four female jaguars - not enough to sustain a population.

But study author Rob Peters, senior southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said they shouldn't discount the millions of acres of prime habitat north of the freeway.

"First of all, they just have to have, as a goal, getting a viable breeding population established in the U.S., which would require having animals north of I-10," said Peters.

Other research indicates that by including the area north of I-10, the habitat could support up to 250 jaguars.

The federal draft recovery plan primarily recommends helping Mexico preserve its native jaguar population. Experts believe the jaguars that live in the U.S. were likely born in Mexico, and then made their way north.

Peters is concerned that President Donald Trump's border wall could spell doom for jaguar population recovery. Specifically, he said, it would block an important animal crossing in the Peloncillos Mountains on the Arizona-New Mexico border.

"The border wall, if it's constructed the way the administration would like, would be a disaster for jaguars and other wildlife in the southwest," Peters stated. "Unless the Fish and Wildlife Service is willing to translocate jaguars, it's the end of jaguars in the U.S. if that wall gets built."

Peters also noted that President Trump's proposed budget, which cuts 12 percent from the U.S. Interior Department, could lead to cuts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and less money for recovery of endangered species in general.

Suzanne Potter/Brett McPherson, Public News Service - NM