23 Mar 2010, 8:46am
Endangered Specious Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
by admin

Environmental Groups Net $91,000 on Jaguar Habitat Litigation

For Immediate Release / March 22, 2023

From the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association

The federal government paid a total of $91,000 to environmental groups as part of settlement agreements in two lawsuits filed regarding designation of critical habitat for the jaguar.

“The amount of money — our tax dollars — that has gone and continues to go to these groups is unbelievable,” said Bert Ancell, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) President, Bell Ranch. “How the government can continue to make these agreements, knowing that money will be used to fund yet another lawsuit against the federal government, is beyond me.”

The Center for Biological Diversity received $53,000 and the Defenders of Wildlife received $38,000 in settlement of a case they filed in 2008 to force the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the jaguar. The groups are pushing for the designation of 53 million acres of habitat in southern New Mexico and Arizona, for a species that is rarely seen north of the Mexican border.

Ancell is concerned about the impacts a critical habitat designation could have on natural resource users, including ranchers. “These designations are far-reaching, and could seriously impact ranching operations and rural economies in southern New Mexico and Arizona.”

“The cost of these lawsuits is staggering,” Ancell continued, “with no actual benefit to the species in question. These environmental groups file hundreds of lawsuits every year, forcing agencies to dedicate time, money and resources that could go to species benefit, instead it goes into the courtroom. Our tax dollars are used to defend the case, our tax dollars are used to settle the case and the environmental groups go out and file more lawsuits. None of this impacts the jaguar one way or the other – the species continues to do just fine in natural range — which does not include the southwestern United States. Jaguars need running water and a humid climate.”

Groups are able to ask for attorneys’ fees as part of the settlement of a lawsuit with the federal government under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and other fee shifting statutes. EAJA was passed in the 1980s to ensure that private citizens’ and non-profits’ rights were protected. Today, however, well-funded environmental groups are using the legislation for profit, Ancell concluded.

The NMCGA has represented the beef industry in New Mexico and the West since 1914 and has members in all 33 of the state’s counties as well as some 14 other states. The Association participates in venues necessary to protect beef producers and private property rights including litigation, state and federal legislation and regulatory affairs.

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