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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department has asked that a proposal aimed at designating land in New Mexico and Arizona as critical habitat for the jaguar be withdrawn.

The agency recently told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the rare jaguar's primary habitat is in Central and South America and that land in Arizona and New Mexico make up less than 1 percent of the species' historic range.

Officials with the agency said both states aren't essential to the conservation of jaguars, although male jaguars from Mexico have been spotted in southern Arizona.

In August, federal wildlife officials proposed designating more than 1,300 square miles in New Mexico and Arizona as critical habitat for the jaguar.

The rare cat was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1997.

Associated Press,

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