New photos show jaguars alive and well near border - Tucson News Now

New photos show jaguars alive and well near border

By Jim Becker  bio | email

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - The death of Macho B, a 16-year-old jaguar, has not spelled the end for the big cats in southern Arizona, as new photos along the border show.

The conservation group Sky Island Alliance has captured several images of the big cat 30 miles south of the US border with Mexico, on a private ranch.

The group is not disclosing further details of the location, out of respect for the property owner.

In any event, conservation groups and government agencies alike are calling the photos great news.

Wildlife biologist Sergio Avila says his group's photos illustrate a couple of points-- first, the cats call southern Arizona and northern Mexico home, and second, they need plenty of room to roam.

Therefore, he argues, a border fence would derail efforts to help the big cat recover.

"The environment is paying the ultimate price of waving environmental laws that affect, not only these endangered species, but all the species that survive in the area and that move freely, because they don't know political boundaries," says Avila.

"The jaguar is as American as the bald eagle or the grizzly bear.  It belongs here," says Scotty Johnson, Senior Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife and a member of a multi-agency team formed in 1996 to help the jaguar recover.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been ordered by federal courts to put together a recovery plan and says it will continue to work with the US Department of Homeland Security, regarding concerns about a border fence and its effect on endangered species.

While Johnson contends a fence would not be needed in remote, rugged areas where jaguars typically roam, a spokesperson for USFWS says more study is needed to figure out the cats' roaming habits.

It is generally agreed Sky Island Alliance's photos and documentation will help in any studies.

©2010 KOLD. All rights reserved.

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