With all of the attention paid to the issue of immigration and attempting to secure the southern border of the United States a very unique immigrant has found its way over the border, a jaguar. For the first time since 2009 a wild jaguar has been observed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in the mountains of Arizona, according to The Atlantic Wire.
Remote cameras have captured the jungle cat in five separate locations on seven occasions since October 2012. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set up the cameras after a hunter shared with authorities a picture he had taken of a jaguar's tail, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The jaguar has been spotted in the vicinity of a proposed Rosemont Mine site which has brought up a discussion about whether the area needs to be declared a critical habitat for the jaguar since it is an endangered species. The Forest Service said in a biological assessment that the proposed mine is "likely to adversely affect" the jaguar, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Sergio Avila, a large cat biologist for the environmental group Sky Island Alliance, believes that the presence of the jaguar in the Santa Rita Mountains shows that the area is part of their critical habitat and will need to be protected as such.
"The jaguars are saying it better than anyone else that they belong here - they're making the point, not me or my organization," Avila told the Arizona Daily Star.
Jim Paxon, a spokesman for the Game and Fish Department, disagreed with Avila's assessment of the situation.
"That solitary male jaguar is no reason for critical habitat," Paxon told the Arizona Daily Star. "We don't have any breeding pairs. If that was critical habitat, we would still be doing the same thing that we are doing today. We are not harassing that jaguar or modifying normal activities there that are lawful today."
Kathy Arnold, Rosemont Copper's vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs, told the Arizona Daily Star that she believes the jaguar is being used as a pawn for environmentalists who want to prevent the mine from being built.
"We are confident that both the Coronado National Forest and Fish and Wildlife Service have concluded that the Rosemont project will neither jeopardize the continued existence of the species, nor adversely affect the proposed critical habitat," Arnold said. "At worst, the project may modify this lone male jaguar's roaming patterns."
A decision on whether or not to protect the habitat will be made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on August 20, according to The Atlantic Wire.