ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A federal judge has rejected a challenge to the federal designation of parts of New Mexico and Arizona as critical habitat for the endangered jaguar.
Judge Kenneth Gonzales’ order Wednesday rejects farming and ranching groups’ arguments that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s inclusion of 181 square miles (469 sq. kilometers) in New Mexico’s Hidalgo County and Arizona’s Cochise County was arbitrary and capricious.
The challenged areas were part of nearly 1,200 square miles (3108 sq. kilometers) designated in 2014 as essential for the conservation of the jaguar.
Jaguars are found in countries stretching from the United States to South America, but there are few sightings in the U.S.
Parts of the U.S. Southwest were home to jaguars before habitat loss and predator control programs aimed at protecting livestock eliminated them.