Deep in one of the beautiful and diverse Sky Island mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona, a rare ocelot has been photographed by remote sensor cameras in the same area where the only known jaguar in the United States has been living for almost two years.
These stunning, secretive cats are native to the region but were wiped out in the past century. Now protected under the Endangered Species Act, they're making a courageous comeback in Arizona, but they need your help if they're to overcome a new threat to their existence.
A massive, open-pit copper mine is proposed in the heart of the cats' home ranges in the Santa Rita Mountains. The proposed Rosemont Mine would destroy thousands of acres of public land that provide prime habitat for these species; it would sever a critically important movement corridor that is essential to their recovery.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is considering the impacts of the proposed mine on these cats and several other endangered species in the area. Please take action to stop this misguided project from dooming these rare cats to disappearing from the United States again.
I'm writing with great concern over the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona. I'm pleased to hear that the Service is taking another look at the protected species issues related to this ill-advised project, and I hope you will take action to prevent the potentially catastrophic damage that could result from its construction.
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The discovery of an ocelot near the proposed mine site is great news, but alarming at the same time. Just as with the jaguar currently living there, this beautiful animal is a key species in the natural heritage of Arizona, but exceedingly rare. Unfortunately these animals cannot coexist with the development of the Rosemont mine, which would destroy thousands of acres of high-quality habitat and sever wildlife corridors that are critically important to the cats' recovery in the United States.
Also, groundwater pumping from the mine threatens to dewater nearby Cienega Creek. This would hurt several protected aquatic and riparian-dependent species, including the Gila chub, Gila topminnow and Chiricahua leopard frog, as well as species that are on the verge of being protected, like the northern Mexican garter snake and yellow-billed cuckoo.
The vast majority of our precious riparian areas in Arizona and the Southwest have already been degraded or destroyed. It is unconscionable to risk the fundamental, life-giving values of Cienega Creek for a project as potentially destructive as Rosemont. I urge you to take all available steps to protect these areas and the listed and candidate species that would be harmed by an open-pit mine at Rosemont.
Thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.
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