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Critical jaguar habitat designated in New Mexico

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday designated critical habitat for the jaguar in New Mexico and Arizona.

The habitat includes more than 764,000 acres across Hidalgo County in southwestern New Mexico and in Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona.

The final rule comes under the Endangered Species Act and takes effect April 4.

“Critical habitat” refers to areas containing features essential to the conservation of an endangered species. Although jaguars roam moist lowlands in their habitat in Central and South America, jaguars have been documented in the arid desert region of northwestern Mexico and the Southwest, according to FWS.

The jaguar was listed as an endangered species in the U.S. in 1997.

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