Nearly 20,000 Acres Being Considered For Jaguar Habitat

Jaguars are the third-largest wild cats in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. They require very large amounts of wild land to be healthy because tend to roam great distances. Arizona and New Mexico used to be part of their natural range, but human activity drove them out or killed them.

Image Credit: Russell Smith
Image Credit: Russell Smith

Today, there may be a single male crossing the Mexican border and wandering into the Coronado National Forest not far from Tucson. Though a lone male jaguar moving through this area may sound scary to some, the fear should be for the cat, not humans. The one jaguar alive in this area has only been photographed by remote cameras and this is the only way it should be sighted. The presence of humans can be disturbing to many wildlife and cause them to alter their behavior.

For this and other valid reasons, it has been proposed this summer that the current jaguar habitat in the South West be expanded by almost 20,000 acres. In 2012, the USFWS proposed designating over 800,000 acres for critical jaguar habitat. Although this sounds like a lot of land, jaguars can range through hundreds of miles of landscapes easily.

In fact, some may argue that 800,000 acres is not enough and that such a small amount only reserves the nearly extinct status of jaguars in the United States. Surely, these wild animals are deserving of healthy lives and freedom to move about in large tracts of land.

Jaguars can weigh up to 200 pounds and there are eight subspecies. All subspecies are endangered. In the area near the border with Mexico there may be only about seventy left.

In Central and South America there are an estimated 15,000 but this number has been considered somewhat vague and may be too high. Jaguar habitats range from forest to brush lands, but they prefer to be near a water source.

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