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Critical habitat for endangered jaguar to be protected, federal officials annouce

January 12, 2010 | 12:19 pm

Jaguar

Federal officials plan to set aside critical habitat for the elusive endangered jaguar.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will review which lands the big cats need to survive in an item published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The decision had been expected last week.

Conservationists see the case as a test of whether the Obama administration will take extra steps to protect animals whose ranges stretch beyond the nation's borders.

Jaguars are the largest cats native to the Western hemisphere and live primarily in Mexico, Central and South America. They once inhabited an extensive area that spanned California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.

They were thought to have been eliminated in the U.S. until two were spotted in 1996 near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Rick Sammon / Associated Press

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