Jaguar habitat challenged by residents, Ariz. Game and Fish

Jaguar habitat challenged by residents, Ariz. Game and Fish

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Aug 1, 2013

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Tom Beatty and his parents live in a very unique, niche area. They own an apple orchard, surrounded by the Coronado National Forest in Sierra Vista.

Beatty hunts every morning with his dogs for two reasons; for recreation and to protect the property.

However, if a U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal goes through, transforming hundreds of thousands of acerage into a jaguar habitat, Beatty says his hunting privileges would essentially be thrown out.

"Yeah, it would be annoying because I would have to travel 50 miles and I like to hunt around the house," Beatty said.

"I might not end up doing that. So, I would probably end up having to sell the dogs or something because I can't keep them here if I cant use them to hunt because that's not what they would like to do," he continued.

Beatty is not alone in his frustration. Residents are taking aim at the proposal. Under the plan, more than 800,000 acres in Southeast Arizona to just east of the Arizona/New Mexico border would be protected. The habitat would include a majority of the nearby Coronado National Forest.

"That jaguar has been here for quite a few years. I mean it just seems like we're over protecting everything nowadays," Sierra Vista resident Kathleen Pennington said.

Fish and Wildlife officials say the plan is "designated to connect habitats used by jaguars, so that they can move between populations."

Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department want it withdrawn, calling the proposal an "unwarranted designation."

Comments in connection with the proposal are being accepted through August 9, 2013. Here is a link to the comments website.