USFWS to hold public meeting on jaguar critical habitat on July 30

by Arizona Game & Fish Department

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a public information session and public hearing on the proposal to designate critical habitat for jaguars on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in Sierra Vista.

The meeting will be held at Buena High School Performing Arts Center at 5225 Buena School Blvd., Sierra Vista. The informational portion of the meeting will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and the public hearing will occur from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

In 2012, the Arizona Game and Fish Department submitted comments to the Service on the jaguar critical habitat proposal. Because lands in Arizona and New Mexico make up less than one percent of the species' historic range and are not essential to the conservation of the species, the department has asked that the proposal be withdrawn.

Conservation of the species is entirely reliant on activities in the jaguar's primary habitat of Central and South America to be successful. The six areas identified as proposed jaguar critical habitat in Arizona already offer protection to the species through the Endangered Species Act. The vast majority of the proposed critical habitat area is public land that is already under federal management jurisdiction or federally-approved conservation plans.

Game and Fish believes that the unwarranted designation of critical habitat for jaguars would likely result in denial of access to lands for jaguar conservation and research efforts; fewer observations of jaguars being reported; and, less timely sighting reports from people that do choose to report a jaguar.