WASHINGTON – Federal regulators on Friday rejected a mining company’s request to reduce critical habitat for endangered jaguars in the Santa Rita Mountains on land that overlaps the footprint of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine.
The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the latest setback for Hudbay Minerals Inc., which has been working for more than a decade to get permission to open the mine that it says could create thousands of jobs and bring billions in economic development to the region.
But opponents welcomed the decision, saying the mine threatens not just the jaguar but the area’s drinking water supply.
“The people of Tucson have shown very clearly that they value jaguars and their water security more than they value this foreign company coming in here to put an open-pit copper mine in our mountains,” said Randy Serraglio, the Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
In an emailed statement Friday, a Hudbay representative said the Canadian-based mining company is reviewing the Fish and Wildlife decision, but that it “remains committed to the development of the Rosemont Project.”
Hudbay claims that the mine would lead to the creation of 500 jobs directly related to the project and another 2,700 indirectly related, spinning off $48 million a year in state and local taxes and generating $1.4 billion a year in economic activity for the region.
The company also claims on its website that the proposed Rosemont mine has been the subject of more than 1,000 studies by 17 federal, state and local agencies over 11 years, and insists it will operate an “unprecedented environmental mitigation program” at the site.
MESA — Kelsey Shaw and her two children pick up large yellow and green caterpillars just off the Bush Highway near Saguaro Lake. The children have no hesitation handling these nearly 2- to 3-inch-long caterpillars, letting them crawl all over their clothes.
Shaw and her children were preparing to spend the morning picking up litter along the Salt River when they spotted the dozens of caterpillars in one of the parking lots in recreational areas of the Tonto National Forest. Although some people cringe at the sight of crawly things, Shaw and her children do not.
“We love the caterpillars,” Shaw said, “it’s just been stressful when we’re driving because they (her kids) get really upset about running them over. We don’t want to hurt them.
“I know some people are absolutely freaking out.”
Drive along the Bush Highway and you can’t miss tens of thousands of these caterpillars frantically wriggling to cross as vehicles fly by. They don’t all make it to the other side – many become yellow splotches on the black asphalt.
The caterpillars are on a mission to eat as much as they can before becoming white-lined sphinx moths (Hyles lineata), which are found across most of North America. They are hawk moths, which are among the largest in the world, and they’re “fast flyers and often highly aerobatic,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Not only are the caterpillars abundant on roadways, they’re showing up in swimming pools and gardens, and on walls and hiking trails.
Pima Animal Care Center is looking to pair furry friends with loving humans during a month of “Clear the Shelters” events.
PACC is offering an adoption promotion every week until Sept. 19 to free space at the shelter.
“We are very excited to have this adoption event happening at PACC!” said Monica Dangler, director of Animal Services. “This event couldn’t come at a better time with the shelter being so full.”
Pima’s shelter is filled to the brim with new dogs because of monsoon weather and specific needs for large dogs. The shelter hopes this month of events will incentivize adopters and fosters to help clear space for animals that can’t be adopted right away.
This week, PACC is offering a $0 adoption fee for all animals in the shelter. Additional promotions throughout the month will be announced via social media every Monday.
The shelter is hosting four events in their multi-purpose room this month:
The main event will be a “Party at PACC” on Sept. 19. Giveaways, prizes, and food trucks are available to attendees.
PACC is located at 4000 N. Silverbell Road, open Monday to Friday, noon to 7 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Pima Animal Care Center officials say they are out of space for incoming dogs.
“We‘ve been at capacity since June and we are now critical again,” said Monica Dangler, director of Animal Services. “PACC needs your help. We need to clear space for 60 large dogs immediately.”
PACC has more than 700 animals, including 570 dogs, at the shelter. On average, they are taking in 20 more animals than are going out each day.
The lack of space is due to a variety of reasons including lost reports because of monsoon weather, dogs that prefer to be solo in the kennel, animals that are part of Animal Protection Services Investigations, and more.
You can help in several ways:
A free COVID-19 clinic will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday in conjunction with the Reid Park Zoo's Summer Safari Nights.
The first 100 people who get their first COVID-19 shot will receive a free daytime admission ticket to come back and visit the Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court, according to a Reid Park news release.
No appointments or identification are required for this mobile event. Registration is done on-site.
All three vaccine types will be available – Pfizer, Moderna, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for 12- to 17-year-olds.
Ward 6 Tucson city council member Steve Kozachik, who helped organize the vaccine clinic, will perform folk and rock tunes. Tucson Roadrunners mascot Dusty will be on hand from 6 to 7 p.m. There will also be games and activities from Tucson Parks and Recreation’s Ready, Set, Rec! as well as animal encounters and presentations throughout the evening.
For a full list of vaccination sites, visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine.
Adoption fees for adult pets at Pima Animal Care Center have been waived for the month of May as PACC has taken in nearly 700 animals in the past week.
“As soon as we get one animal out, three more come in its place,” said Monica Dangler, Interim Director of Animal Services. “We just need to clear out some kennels in order to keep up with what’s happening right now.”
Adopted dogs have a $20 license fee. Kittens and puppies still cost $50 each. The shelter is also waiving reclaim fees for owners whose pets get lost and wind up in PACC’s care.
If you can’t adopt, PACC also needs foster help. You can house a pet for a couple of weeks, and the shelter will help provide what you need for that pet. To get started, just head to pima.gov/foster.
TUCSON – Although jaguars are widely assumed to live exclusively in Mexico, Central and South America, they once prowled Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before colonizers and poachers in the 19th century drove most of these beautifully spotted big cats out of the U.S.
So when Ganesh Marin was studying ecosystems along the border U.S.-Mexico this year, the University of Arizona Ph.D. student wasn’t expecting to see a young jaguar sauntering in his video feed in mid-March.
The far-ranging jaguar has been on the endangered species list for nearly 20 years because of deforestation, ranching, farming and poaching, and experts estimate only 15,000 are left in the wild globally. But there now is a glimmer of hope that Panthera onca – the largest cat in the Americas and a creature venerated in many Indigenous cultures – might one day return to its range in the U.S. Southwest.
“The goal of my research was not originally to find any jaguars,” Marin told Cronkite News. “I was working with my graduate adviser to observe the ecosystems that lived along the border and see how the diversity of those systems changed.”
Marin’s observations were meant to identify the ecosystem’s key players, and the young jaguar, despite being an unexpected variable, showed a potentially much bigger picture.