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Conservation Group Pushes to Reintroduce Jaguars Into New Mexico

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Conservation Group Pushes to Reintroduce Jaguars Into New Mexico

Posted 2024-02-19  by  Stephanie Mallory

Federal government denied the request, saying jaguars likely never had a breeding population in the state

The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing for the reintroduction of jaguars in New Mexico.

According to, back in December, the organization petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reintroduce jaguars in New Mexico and designate more critical habitat in both New Mexico and Arizona, but was denied last month.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service denied our request to start a jaguar reintroduction program into the Gila National Forest, which scientists have identified as the best jaguar habitat remaining," says Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Robinson claims the reintroduction could have positive impacts on the ecosystem.

"It's an unfortunate response, but sadly it's not a surprising one," says Robinson.

According to Robinson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed jaguars on behalf of the livestock industry back in the 1960s.

But, New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) says there's "little to no evidence" that jaguars ever established a breeding population in the state.

NMDGF said in a statement to ABC-7, "There is no evidence that releasing jaguars to New Mexico to try to establish a population would be a return to any kind of natural state."

The statement adds, "Releasing a large carnivore on the landscape, especially one that is novel to the area, can have cascading impacts on the species lower on the trophic ladder [food chain], which in New Mexico can include many state and federally endangered species that we are trying to recover."

Several recent sightings of jaguars in Arizona have raised the possibility of the large cats roaming southern New Mexico anyway.

“[The jaguar] is moving throughout these mountain ranges, and probably, he has been in New Mexico," says Ganesh Marin, a doctoral candidate at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona.

Since late last year, Marin and his colleagues have been tracking a jaguar in the Huachuca Mountains near Tucson.

It's the eighth documented jaguar in the southwestern United States since 1996, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

However, the last confirmed jaguar sighting in New Mexico occurred in 2006, and the last to be photographically documented was in 1996 in New Mexico's "bootheel" region.

Robinson says despite the petition being denied, people who are interested in seeing jaguars being reintroduced to the Gila Mountains should contact their local legislators.

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