A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to create a critical jaguar habitat zone in parts of Arizona and New Mexico could lead to trapping bans in those areas. The proposed zone is a 838,232-acre portion of the two states.
“That means federal agencies cannot fund or authorize any activities that might ‘adversely modify’ the earmarked land, which covers four stretches of mountain in southeastern Arizona, a section of the Peloncillo Mountains on the Arizona–New Mexico border, and a tiny piece of New Mexico’s San Luis Mountains,” explains Susan H. Greenberg in a Scientific American article.
Trapping could be heavily regulated or banned in the critical jaguar habitat zone if the proposal is put into effect. The plan will now go through a period of peer review, public comment and economic analysis before the U.S.F.W.S. decides on whether to approve it. The National Trappers Association is aware of the issue and plans to address the U.S.F.W.S. before comments are closed.
Jaguars, which are the third-largest cats in the world behind lions and tigers, have not had known breeding populations in any part of the U.S. since the 1960s, but males have been spotted irregularly crossing into the Southwest from Mexico. The closest breeding population to the U.S. is more than 200 kilometers south of Arizona in Mexico’s state of Sonora, according to the Scientific American article.
“Although the designated area represents the northernmost part of the jaguar’s range, the U.S.F.W.S. proposal argues that peripheral populations are essential to the species because their adaptation to different environmental conditions strengthens evolutionary diversity,” Greenberg wrote.